Mycotoxin Management in Silage and Haylage Improved by Understanding of Mycotoxin Distribution

Research impact statement by Associate Professor Gretchen A. Kuldau, Ph.D.

Mycotoxins, fungal secondary metabolites that are toxic to humans and animals in low doses, are found in numerous food and feed products. Typical U.S. dairy feed is composed of multiple components, but silage and or haylage in general comprises about 50 percent of dry matter intake. Dairy cows ingesting mycotoxin-contaminated rations experience reduced health and milk production. Literature documenting the presence of individual mycotoxins or mycotoxin classes indicates their presence in silages; however, few studies described incidence and levels of multiple mycotoxins from the same sample. Additionally, information on the presence and levels of these mycotoxins at the time of silage material harvest had not been reported, and there was limited information on mycotoxin levels in silages from the northeastern U.S., a region with an important dairy industry. Harvest and post-fermentation silage samples were analyzed from over thirty Pennsylvania farms over two years for nine mycotoxins. Results showed that the majority of samples contain three or more mycotoxins. Data on mycotoxin levels at harvest and after silage fermentation provided directives for management relative to specific toxins or toxin groups. This work, published in a series of four papers between 2005 and 2008, has impacted the field of mycotoxins in forages and in dairy production as evidenced by numerous citations in both primary works and review articles. The most cited article, Mansfield et al., 2008, was cited thirty times, including in four review works and twice in items classified by Web of Science as editorial material. Article citations come from a wide range of journals, including those in food science, toxicology, applied chemistry, plant sciences, agronomy, mycology, applied microbiology biotechnology, and dairy animal science, indicating impact on the broad field of mycotoxicology. Additionally, the citing articles originate from across the globe. Thus, this work has widespread impact in both a geographic sense and across disciplines.

Contact Information

Gretchen A. Kuldau, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor
Phone: 814-863-7232