Excessive levels of aflatoxin can harm and even kill livestock and pets. Growers are being warned not to use affected grain as feed for cattle or any other livestock.

“The emergency rule signed by the Governor this week follows strict FDA guidelines specifying the maximum levels that may be fed to beef cattle and then only in feedlots,” said State Secretary of Agriculture, Terry Peach. “Unblended corn may contain up to 300 parts per billion and blended corn up to 200 parts per billion of aflatoxin.”

It has been reported that some producers are feeding cattle corn with higher levels of the mold caused toxin. Oklahoma State University animal nutritionists say this can cause health and fertility problems or even death if the levels are high enough.

“If present in sufficient concentration, aflatoxin can cause fertility problems in breeding animals including abortions,” said Dr. David Lalman, OSU Animal Science professor. “It may also cause reduced feed consumption, weight loss, residues in meat and milk and can compromise the animal’s immune system.”

He also pointed out a Pennsylvania State University study that showed how specific levels of the aflatoxin could affect certain species. The report states that young animals can be affected when the mother is on a diet containing 20-40 ppb of its total dry ration and aflatoxin levels of 600 ppb or more can be fatal to young calves.

Reduced growth and liver damage were also cited in the report.