Feed and Feed Storage

Adequate amounts of good quality feed must be available before animals can be moved back to flooded premises.  Producers should be aware of mould growth in damp grain and hay.  Mouldy grain and forage is a potential health hazard for livestock. In most cases, feeds that have deteriorated can still be fed, as long as feeding is controlled and supplemental feed is used when required.

Mouldy feeds can cause problems for several reasons:

  • Palatability is often decreased causing a reduction in feed intake and performance if the ration is not supplemented accordingly.
  • Moulds may produce mycotoxins which are harmful to animals. Swine are more susceptible to mycotoxins than are cattle.
  • Some mouldy forages may lead to mycotic abortions in cattle.
  • When the mould spores are inhaled, they may cause allergic reactions leading to respiratory difficulties and pneumonia.

If mouldy hay or grain is fed, minimize the risks by observing the following precautions:

  • Discard obviously mouldy forage and grain.
  • Avoid feeding mouldy feed to young, lactating or pregnant animals. These animals are most at risk to mould related problems.
  • Feed the suspect feed to a small pen of animals for 2 to 3 weeks and closely monitor their performance.
  • Introduce mouldy feeds into a ration gradually. If problems occur, stop feeding the mouldy feed immediately and seek help from a competent source.
  • Balance mouldy feeds with good quality ingredients. It is particularly important to feed a well-balanced ration.
  • Feed mouldy feeds outdoors to minimize the effects of dust and spores on the respiratory system.
  • Producers should be aware of the health hazard involved in working with mouldy feeds and take every precaution to decrease personal exposure.
  • Follow normal precautions when feeding sweet clover silage produced from high coumarin varieties.  Follow a "7 days on - 7 days off" feeding regime regardless of whether moulds are visually observed.
  • Send a representative sample of the feed in question to a lab for mould analysis. This will indicate the level and types of moulds present in the suspect feed.