Drought is influencing agricultural production across two-thirds of the United States and is predicted to be the worst in 50 years. There are some factors to consider regarding trace mineral fortification decisions during drought challenges, especially when mycotoxins are present.
Due to limited forage supplies, more poor quality feeds, such as those high in nitrates, lignin, ash, and mycotoxins will be fed. Feeding extra minerals can help mitigate the negative effects of feeding poor quality forages.
Selected field samples tested by several allied industry companies in July indicate that the corn will be high in aflatoxins (and some fumonisins). Recent drought-stress corn from Texas also produced similar mycotoxin profiles. Due to aflatoxins in grains, higher levels will be concentrated in byproducts.
Poultry has a very low tolerance for aflatoxins that can cause weak capillary wall subsequently increasing the incidence of bruising/haemorrhages during processing. Supplementing extra zinc through the diet has shown to drastically decrease the incidence of bruising and haemorrhages.
Aflatoxins can also interact with coccidia to make gut lesions more severe. While e.g. Availa-Zn is not a cure for coccidiosis, it can certainly influence epithelial tissue resulting in less severe lesions and faster healing processes.
Researchers have also reported observations that high inorganic zinc levels in chicken feeds increase the aflatoxin production in the feed. A complexed zinc should prevent further in-feed aflatoxin increases.
With increased mycotoxin concentrations in feedstuffs, inclusion of binders in diets will increase. Some classes of mycotoxin sequestering agents may render some minerals and vitamins unavailable for absorption and metabolism. Therefore, providing a highly bioavailable source of trace minerals in a complexed form is further warranted.
The immune response can be impacted during drought through different mechanisms; diet quality, presence of mycotoxins, limited dry matter intake and heat stress. When trace mineral status declines, the first biological function compromised is immunity.
The dynamics of immunity is sensitive to small shifts in trace mineral balance. Once immunecompetency is lowered, subsequent effects are lowered production. Nutrients partitioned to support an activated immune response are no longer available to support growth, m lactation, reproduction or other production parameters.
Complexed minerals consistently influence immunity for all species. Drought-associated stress will influence the magnitude of response observed between organic trace minerals and other ordinary trace mineral sources.