Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas Suzanne W. Gasparotto 300 Happy Ridge
Lohn, Texas
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Aflatoxin is one of nature's most potent carcinogens. It is a by-product of mold growth.

When aflatoxin-contaminated feed is fed to goats, many health and performance problems result. Commodities in which aflatoxins have been detected include corn, peanuts, wheat, rice, cottonseed, tree nuts, milo, and milk. Corn is the crop that is most often associated with aflatoxins.

Once produced, aflatoxin does not go away, even if the molds die. There are two molds which are the major producers of aflatoxin, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. These fungi are found everywhere in the world. They are soil-borne but they like to grow on the rich nutrients of seeds. Their toxins occur both in the pasture and when the feed is in storage.

Weather-created stress, such as drought changing to heavy moisture conditions, help the fungi invade the plants. The fungi require moisture above 14% and temperatures higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Feed stored in closed and/or poorly-ventilated areas is subject to aflatoxin poisoning.

Because aflatoxin does not result in distinct disease symptoms, it is often not even suspected as the cause of poor goat health. Aflatoxin suppresses the immune system, thereby allowing the goat to develop diseases that it would not likely have succumbed to had aflatoxin-contaminated feed not been fed. Aflatoxins can also be passed into milk by dairy goats.

The most accurate and cost-effective method available to detect mycotoxins, including aflatoxin, is the ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Quanta Lab in Selma, Texas (north of San Antonio on IH35) does this testing. Quanta Lab also tests for Prussic Acid and Nitrate/Nitrite toxicity. 1-210-651-5799.

Young goats are most susceptible to the effects of aflatoxin, although all ages can be affected. In all animals, aflatoxin can cause liver damage, decreased reproductive performance, reduced milk production, death in utero, tumors, birth defects, and lowered immune system function.

Periods of extreme weather conditions demand that goat producers keep a watchful eye on grain and roughages, whether they are out on pasture or being fed commercially-produced grain products. Extreme dry conditions which may be interspersed with heavy rains should make you watch for toxic reactions of all types. When these conditions present themselves, testing of grains and hay must be done before feeding these products to goats. The cost of testing is minimal compared with the animal loss that may occur.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto. Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 8.1.22

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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