Cattle Health: Fungus Among Us
Fungus and molds have such a pervasive presence in the environment that virtually any feed we offer our cattle will contain at least some low level of these organisms and their spores. But diets containing high concentrations of mold, or the by-products produced by some specific species of fungi, can negatively impact animals several ways:
1. Reductions in dry matter intake. This may simply be due to reduced palatability, increased dustiness, reduced nutrient quality, or, most likely, a combination of all three factors.
2. Lowered nutritional quality. If molds are growing on hay or grain, they are using up some of the available nutrients for their own needs. That means there will be less energy and protein left for the animals that will eventually be given the feed. Fat in particular is reduced by mold in feeds. Various research reports suggest the quality (i.e. digestibility or energy content) of moldy feeds is often reduced 5 to 10%.