7 June 2002

Mycotoxin-free cereals halve PMWS mortality

By Richard Allison

FEEDING home-grown cereals which are free from fusarium mycotoxins, instead of purchased concentrates, has halved pig mortality rates for one North Yorks producer battling pig wasting diseases.

Porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS) first appeared in fattening pigs during the foot-and-mouth outbreak, says Paul Gill. "The unit, near Boroughbridge, faced increasing stocking pressure due to movement restrictions."

Losses from the subsequent emergence of post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) were running at 10-15% between weaning and slaughter. "During the outbreak, we were forced to switch from a purchased compound feed to a mix of milled home-grown cereal plus soya, beans and lupins."

Within one month of feeding the new diet, mortality rates fell and have remained at 5-6% since November. Mr Gill believes one reason for this improvement is feeding clean grain. We normally treat milling wheat for fusarium, which produces mycotoxins, by applying Charisma (famoxate + flusilazole) as a T3 earwash spray."

Most cereals grown for animal feeding are not treated with an earwash spray, says Fieldcares Thirsk-based agronomist Bryan Pickles. "But some growers have started to use them on crops for feeding because there is a 0.5t/ha improvement in grain yield."

Earwash fungicide sprays should be applied in mid to late June, depending on growth stage. But care is needed when selecting products, as strobilurin fungicides do not give adequate control of DON mycotoxin producing moulds, he says.

Another possible reason for lower pig mortality is that the pelleting process was reducing the effectiveness of in-feed medication, says Mr Gill. "We are now adding medication to our home-mix, which is being fed as a meal."

He believes the wasting disease was triggered by a combination of 4-5 different factors, removing the diet related factors has led to lower pig mortality.

The herd consists of about 270 breeding sows and their progeny which are fattened to 100kg bacon weight.

More than 28ha (70 acres) of barley and 100ha (250 acres) of wheat are grown on the mixed enterprise farm. &#42

Ensuring pigs are fed grain which is free from mycotoxins might help reduce mortality from pig wasting diseases.

&#8226 Fusarium mycotoxins.

&#8226 Link with wasting disease?

&#8226 Effect of pelleting?