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Aflatoxin Printable PDF

Background Information: 

Aflatoxins are a family of extremely toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic compounds.

Major crops affected:

Corn, Corn Silage, Milo, Sorghums, Peanuts, and Cottonseed

Associated mold:

Aspergillus sp. (primarily Aspergillus flavus, A. nomius, and A. parasiticus)

Conditions favoring production:

Heat and drought stress pre-harvest. Heat and humidity post-harvest.


Primary target is the liver resulting in abnormal blood clotting, jaundice, hemorrhaging, and reduced immune response.  Affects rumen function in vitro and in vivo by decreasing cellulose digestion, volatile fatty acid formation, and proteolysis.

Acute: Inappetance, lethargy, ataxia, rough hair coat, and pale/enlarged fatty livers.

Chronic: Reduced feed efficiency and milk production, jaundice, decreased appetite, and reduced immune function.

Dairyland Labs Packages that include Aflatoxins:

  • Individual Mycotoxin request
  • Mycotoxin Basic Package
  • Mycotoxin Select Package
  • Mycotoxin Complete Package

Interpretation Guidelines

Interpretation Guidelines Level
Detection Limit 1 ppb
Concern Level (TRDM)* 20 - 40 ppb
Potentially Harmful Level** TRDM (Cattle) 20 - 132 ppb
Potentially Harmful Level** TRDM (Swine) 20 - 102 ppb

*Level indicating possible favorable conditions for mycotoxins and probable need for further testing of all feeds or the TMR.  Pending further tests, negative samples should be considered at concern levels in the presence of moderate symptoms and at harmful levels with marked symptoms.  Limit amounts fed if moderate performance effects are present.  Discontinue use at least temporarily if pronounced performance effects or acute clinical symptoms are present.  Closely observe animals and continue checking for other possible causes.

 **Mycotoxins at these levels indicate probably involvement in performance effects or acute clinical symptoms.  Discontinue feeding at least temporarily in the presence of either type of symptoms.  Observe animals closely in the absence of symptoms and do further testing of all feeds or the TMR.

TRDM = total ration dry matter

FDA Action Levels

For Level Commodities
All animal species 20 ppb All feed (exceptions below)
Breeding cattle, breeding swine, and mature poultry 100 ppb Corn and peanut products
Finishing swine (>100 lbs.) 200 ppb Corn and peanut products
Finishing beef cattle 300 ppb Corn and peanut products
Beef cattle, swine or poultry 300 ppb Cottonseed meal
Immature animals 20 ppb Animal feeds and ingredients, excluding cottonseed meal
Dairy animals, animals not listed above, or unknown use 20 ppb Animal feeds and ingredients
Milk < 0.5 ppb  


Adams, Richard S., Kenneth B. Kephart, Virginia A. Ishler, Lawrence J. Hutchinson, and Gregory W. Roth. “Mold and Mycotoxin Problems in Livestock Feeding.” Dairy Cattle Nutrition (Penn State Extension). Penn State Extension, n.d. Web. 17 Sep. 2013.

Carlson, M.P., and S.M. Ensley. Understanding Fungal (Mold) Toxins (Mycotoxins). University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. June 2003. Web. 3 Feb. 2016

Coulombe, R.A., Jr. 1993. Symposium: Biological Action of Mycotoxins. Journal of Dairy Science. 76:880-891.

Diaz, D.E., W.M. Hagler, and L.W. Whitlow. “Mycotoxins in Feeds.” Feedstuffs. 15 Sep. 2010.

Fink-Gremmels, Johanna. 2008. Mycotoxins in cattle feeds and carry-over to dairy milk: A review. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 25:2, 172-180, DOI: 10.1080/02652030701823142.

Gallo, A., G. Giubuerti, J.C. Frisvad, T. Bertuzzi, and K.F. Nielsen. Review on Mycotoxin Issues in Ruminants: Occurrence in Forages, Effects of Mycotoxin Ingestion on Health Status and Animal Performance and Practical Strategies to Counteract Their Negative Effects. Toxins 2015, 7, 3057-3111.

Kurtzman, C.P., B.W. Horn, and C.W. Hesseltine. 1987.  Aspergillus nomius, a new aflatoxin-producing species related to Aspergillus

flavus and Aspergillus tamarii. Anton v. Leeuwenhoek 53:147-158.

Whitlow, L.W., M.B. Genter, W.M. Hagler, Jr., J.A. Hansen, F.T. Jones, B.A. Mowrey, and M.H. Poore. (1994, 2007)

Understanding and Coping with Effects of Mycotoxins in Livestock Feed and Forage. North Carolina State Cooperative Extension Service. Dec. 1994.

Yiannikouris, A., and Jean-Pierre Jouany. 2002. Mycotoxins in feeds and their fate in animals: a review. INRA, EDP Sciences. Anim. Res. 51 (2002) 81-99.


For more information call Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. at 608-323-2123 or contact us here.