Soaring temperatures and drought conditions through parts of Kansas and other states are sparking some cases of aflatoxin in corn, which means swine producers should be vigilant about what they’re feeding, according to Kansas State University scientists.

“Aflatoxin is a toxic metabolite produced by the ear-rotting fungus Aspergillus flavus,” said Doug Jardine, state plant pathology leader with K-State Research and Extension. “It is favored by hot, humid and droughty conditions during the grain fill period.”

K-State extension swine specialists Mike Tokach and Joel DeRouchey outlined several points for producers to keep in mind regarding feeding corn to swine.

  • Harvest contaminated corn fields as quickly as possible. Once it appears, toxin levels seem to continue to increase in fields due to mold growth.
  • Clean the grain if possible before storage. Removing damaged kernels lowers toxin levels (by about 50 percent).
  • Store at less than 15 percent moisture (13 percent or less is ideal) to limit further fungal growth and toxin production.
  • Flush to clean the system after handling contaminated corn (put flush in a contaminated bin).
  • Consider adding propionic acid to corn before it goes into storage if fungus is present and a concern. Addition of propionic acid at 0.5 percent limits further fungal growth.
  • Monitor grain bin temperatures. Good grain management is important, as hot spots will increase fungal growth and toxin production.
  • Segregate corn into high and low level bins if possible. Corn with less than 20 parts per billion can be fed in sow, nursery and last finisher diets. Corn with greater than 20 ppb can be fed to finishing pigs.  
  • Use low test weight corn quickly. It does not store well.
  • Monitor DDGS (dried distillers grains with soluble). Aflatoxin may be four times higher in DDGS than in the corn used to make it