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disturbances, feed intake depression and reproductive
abnormalities. Zearalenone (ZEA) is often responsible for
the latter. Cystic ovaries, irregular cycles and embryonic
abnormalities all fall under the remit of ZEA. Probably one
of the most important yet underestimated e ects is the
antibiotic action of Penicillium mycotoxins. Patulin, PR toxin
and roquefortine C are all produced by Penicillium moulds
and have the same function in the rumen as Penicillin does
in the human body -- antibiotic.
Managing the risk
There are many ways to help control and monitor
mycotoxins. No one method provides full protection, but
when some key guidelines are put in place, the mycotoxin
risk can begin to be controlled. In the event of the
symptoms mentioned above being verifi ed as resulting
from mycotoxin contamination, the most e ective way of
dealing with the mycotoxin issue is to eliminate the mould
formation and minimise the feeding of a ected forages
by discarding spoiled feed. An e ective mycotoxin binder
should be fed as part of the diet. They are called binders
because they work by `binding' to harmful mycotoxins,
preventing them from being absorbed by the cow.
Mycotoxin binders vary greatly. There are two main types
on the market: clay-based and yeast-based. Yeast-based
binders will bind more e ciently to a greater range of
mycotoxins, reducing mycotoxin absorption without
a ecting vitamins and minerals. Mycosorb A+® is an
organic binder based on a specifi c strain of yeast. It is a
broad-spectrum binder that tackles mycotoxins as a whole,
rather than dealing with them individually. Its binding
capabilities, broader absorption profi le and increased
e cacy sets it apart from other binders.
Dry cow challenge
As previously mentioned, the diet of dry cows is primarily
made up of forages, and the potential risk due to
mycotoxin contamination could take e ect during this
period, but also the transition period. Reproductive issues
and a loss in dry matter intakes are two key concerns
with mycotoxins during this period. We also know that
mycotoxins can suppress immunity. In the lead up to
calving, and for a number of weeks post-calving, we know
that dairy cows are under stress, and many metabolic issues
occur around this time. Managing the mycotoxin risk, but
also other key strategies, such as the choice of dry cow
mineral, can have a massive impact on the success of your
dry cow programme.
A key focus within Alltech has been developing minerals
that closely resemble those that animals regularly absorb
through forages, or, in other words, organic minerals. With
over 30 years of work in this area, Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®
trace minerals are now commonly seen in higher-spec dry
cow mineral premixes and concentrate feeds. Including
Bioplex and Sel-Plex trace elements in your dry cows' diet
can help support a healthy immune system and contribute
to better reproductive performance. Recent research
from Penn State University has investigated the e ects of
feeding Bioplex and Sel-Plex minerals to dry cows and the
subsequent impact on their heifer progeny. The results
show a reduction in age at calving for fi rst-lactation heifers
by 26 days, who's dams were fed these minerals during the
dry cow period, compared to dams fed a control diet based
on inorganic minerals.
P = .