Ohio State University, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Penn State University and the University of Kentucky have collaborated to provide an in-depth section on moldy grains and mycotoxins, and feeding problems associated with them. The section is part of Ohio State Extension's Department of Plant Pathology's Ohio Field Crop Diseases Web site. The information is available by logging onto http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/ohiofieldcropdisease/.

"We feel there is little information available for grain and livestock producers. Frequently, this information is difficult to obtain or it is so scattered that it is difficult to find some basic information about these problems," said Pat Lipps, a plant pathologist with Ohio State's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, OH. "Most information is written for industry personnel managing grain facilities, and veterinarians."

The section on the Web site provides a wealth of information on the different types of mycotoxins, preventive practices, feed concentrations and plant diseases associated with mycotoxins, as well as Internet links for additional information and an article on where to send grain for analysis.

"This information is very basic, providing the producer with information on what mycotoxins are, how they get in grain, what types of problems they cause in livestock, what levels of mycotoxins cause problems and how to manage a potential problem," Lipps said.

Monitoring, identifying and dealing with mycotoxins are important aspects in grain production and livestock management. Most mycotoxins cause health problems in animals, including nausea, hemorrhaging and abortions. Some are lethal.

Aflatoxin, for example, is a carcinogen and is more toxic than lead arsenic. A common mycotoxin, vomitoxin – harmful to humans and animals – may be found in wheat and corn grain. It is important to detect mycotoxin-contaminated grain before it is milled and baked for human consumption or prepared for feed for livestock.

"Mycotoxins are some of the more cryptic problems that grain and livestock producers deal with," Lipps said. "They can see the mold on the grain but they cannot see or evaluate the toxic components that may be associated with these molds without additional help.

"We hope that producers can get the information they need from this Web site to make informed decisions, and to get help from professionals or service laboratories when necessary."