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Extension > Food > Small Farms > Alternative and small-scale livestock systems > Sheep and goats > Moldy feed for sheep and goats

Moldy feed for sheep and goats

Written by Dr. Larry Goelz, Pipestone Veterinary Clinic
Reviewed by Wayne Martin, Extension educator, 2012

Mold has the potential to produce various mycotoxins that can impact livestock. Briefly here are some points to help you understand what can be done to minimize affects on sheep or goats:

  1. First understand that just because there is mold does not mean there are mycotoxins. For example, in a recent year we saw a lot of Cladosporium. Cladosporium, while unsightly, is not a known mycotoxin producer. Bottom line is that mold on the surface of the kernel does not necessarily mean mycotoxin and corn with no visible mold does not necessarily mean absence of mycotoxins.
  2. Significant mold will be removed from the kernel during the process of harvest. The surface of the kernel touches many moving parts in a combine, auger and grain dryer. This will likely significantly lower the level of mold spores in the grain.
  3. Mold spores are likely to be concentrated in grain screenings. These have been a popular feed for small ruminants but should be viewed with caution this year.
  4. Proper drying of the grain to below 14% and proper storage will do more to minimize the mold level than the initial amount of mold on the surface of the grain.
  5. Very little research has been conducted on sheep or goats. In general they are at no more risk, and possibly less, than cattle. Grains below the threshold that can be fed to dairy cattle should be safe for sheep and goats.
  6. Ewe and doe rations are forage based. Small amounts of questionable grain may be tolerable if diluted out with large amounts of forage.
  7. More information becomes available after a grain is harvested and tested post-harvest when actual levels of mycotoxins are determined.
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