The importance of strict hygiene in feed silos

We have seen a surge in different types of toxins in recent years, along with many different levels of toxins in livestock production.

Written by: John Snede, Consultant

We have seen a surge in different types of toxins in recent years, along with many different levels of toxins in livestock production.

Two kinds of toxins have come to dominate:

  • Those that flourish during the growth period – referred to as ‘field fungi’. They tend to come in with the crops, and need to be combated out in the field during the growth season.
  • Those that flourish during storage – referred to as ‘silo mould’. The occurrence of these depends on storage conditions during the feeding season.

We ran an article earlier in our email newsletter on maintenance of strict hygiene in feed silos.
You can read the article here: Maintaining strict hygiene in the feeding system (vilomix.com)

Experiences at first hand 

Unfortunately one of our Danish customers experienced the problem of silo mould at first hand. He cleaned out a grain silo, which resulted in large amounts of leftover grain. The leftovers smelled badly, and were not a pretty sight.

A sample was sent for analysis to check for mycotoxin content. The result showed two types of toxins, not normally found in crops used for animal feed. One was a variant of Zearalenone (ZEA), and is about 60 times more harmful than ZEA. ZEA impairs oestrogen production in livestock. The other toxin was a precursor to Aflatoxin, which is not normally found in Danish grain. But it does indicate poor warehouse and storage conditions.

Changes in the weather – warm days and cold nights – can cause problems with humidity and condensation in silos. The problem can be exacerbated if the feed delivered to the silo contains heat from the mill and production. In due course, dust can combine with damp on the inside of the silo to start the formation of mould.

The incident confirms yet again how important strict hygiene in feed storage facilities is, and how it requires constant focus to maintain healthy feed for livestock.