The most important crops for ensilage are grass and maize. At present, the practice of ensiling is considered one of the most appropriate forms to preserve the nutritional value of forages ensiled for animal feed. We create storage systems for feed, and these are artificial ecosystems that maintain the quality and nutritional value depending on the interaction among physical, chemical and biological agents.
Poor management at postharvest can lead to rapid spoilage. Most silage is made from annual crops, and mycotoxin content may vary from year to year. In addition, distribution of mycotoxin contamination is very heterogeneous existing highly contaminated sites among good quality material.
Mycotoxins are produced by specific moulds, which are impossible to entirely avoid in the process of growing and storing crops for ruminant feed. Forages used for making silage are naturally in contact with yeasts and filamentous fungi present in the field, but can also occur during harvesting, transport and storage. Mycotoxin production can occur during plant growth in the field or during the stages of silage making or storage that allows air ingress into the ensiled material.
There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of mycotoxins being produced: