Recent studies of baled silages produced in Ireland have identified considerable filamentous fungal contamination. Many of these fungi are toxigenic, capable of producing secondary metabolites, namely mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are potentially detrimental to livestock health and some can pose a risk to consumers of animal products. Baled (n=20) and pit (n=18) silages from a sample of farms (n=38) in Co. Meath were examined to assess the occurrence of mycotoxins and ascertain whether sampling position within the pit silos (feed face vs. 3 m behind the feed face) has an effect on mycotoxin content or other chemical compositional variables. Of the 20 mycotoxins assayed, baled silages contained [mean of positive values (no. of values in mean)] mycotoxin concentrations (μg/kg dry matter) of beauvericin 36 (2), enniatin (enn.) A 9.3 (3), enn. A1 54 (8), enn. B 351 (9), enn. B1 136 (10), mycophenolic acid (MPA) 11,157 (8) and roquefortine C (Roq. C) 1037 (8) and pit silages contained beauvericin 25 (2) enn. A1 18 (2), enn. B 194 (9), enn. B1 57 (3), MPA 287 (6), Roq. C 3649 (6) and zearalenone 76 (1). There was no difference (P>0.05) observed in the mycotoxin concentrations between baled and pit silages, and 11 of the 20 mycotoxins assayed were below the limits of detection. The position of sampling had no effect on the mycotoxin concentration detected in pit silages. It is concluded that mycotoxin concentrations detected in these pit and baled silages in Co. Meath did not exceed EU regulation or guidance limits, and that similar chemical composition and mycotoxin concentration values occurred at the pit silage feed face and 3 m behind this feed face.
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