Proactive feed-store management pays dividends

Rising temperatures after the long and wet spring means warm and damp conditions on many units, increasing the threat of mould and mites in bulk storage facilities.

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“Livestock feed creates an ideal environment for mould to develop,” said ForFarmers’ Alison Ewing. “Moisture levels higher than 13%, together with warm temperatures, can lead to rapid growth.”

Growing mould generates further moisture and higher temperatures, accelerating the spread and leading to the production of mycotoxins. Feed loses nutrients and is less palatable, both of which can lead to performance and health issues.

High humidity and moisture levels can also lead to mite infestations. “Look for the tell-tale pink-brown ‘dust’, which is often found at the base of the feed silo. If you pinch that dust into a peak it will soon collapse if there are live mites present.

“We advocate a proactive approach to ensure feed maintains its quality and remains free of these contaminants,” explains Ms Ewing. “Check and clean silos once a month. Look for any backed up feed, leaking seams, signs of damage, or areas that are porous or rusty.”

“During the summer silos should be emptied at least once a month. Then, every six months, they should be fumigated and pressure-washed inside. Make sure they are completely dry before restocking,” she added.

“Finally, it is good practice to always clear up feed spillages quickly because stray feed will readily absorb moisture and become infested with mould, and also attract rodents.”

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