NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Corn Molds, Dispose of Dead Livestock Quickly

corn molds, Fusarium, moldy corn, mortality compost pile, carcass disposal

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent,Agriculture and Natural Resources

Corn Molds

Roger Ashley, NDSU Cropping Specialist at the NDSU Dickinson Extension Research Center reported that a corn field near Richardton had several cobs (about 1%) with pink mold. There is probably a complex of molds on the ear but the pink is an identifying characteristic for Fusarium. If producers follow corn with wheat or barley there is a very good chance the wheat or barley crop will come down with Fusarium head blight next year if the right weather conditions and crop stage coincide. Therefore, it is recommended to not follow corn with a cereal grain. Also, a fungicide application may be necessary at first flower next year.

The more immediate concern is the potential for mycotoxins in livestock feed. Producers may want to read NDSU's publication, "Corn Ear Molds" PP-1451, for additional information. Southwestern counties in North Dakota have received exceptional moisture this fall and may be more likely to see this issue than other counties. The field where the mold was found was late planted (June 19) with an early maturing variety (75 days) that reached maturity just before a freeze and the extensive rain/snowfall last week. I have seen several fields in this area at maturity or less when killing frost occurred.

Storage of corn with high levels of mold is also an issue. Producers need to move the corn as quickly as possible. Moldy corn will not store well for long periods of time. Producers that wish to feed the corn to livestock are encouraged to have the corn tested to get a better understanding of the mycotoxin levels; feeding corn with high levels of mycotoxins can greatly reduce cattle performance and death can occur in some cases.

Source: Roger Ashley, Extension Agronomist, (701) 456-1106

Dispose of Dead Livestock Quickly

Some producers in southwestern North Dakota lost livestock due to last weekend's unseasonal blizzard.

Rendering, incineration, burial and composting are approved methods of carcass disposal in North Dakota. Composting is a naturally occurring process that breaks the carcass into basic elements via microorganisms and heat generated during composting.

Following are tips on how to build a mortality compost pile:

Start with two feet of base material in a windrow or circle, depending on how many carcasses will be composted. Lay the carcass on top of the base. Lance the rumen of mature cattle to ensure eruption does not occur. Have at least one foot of base material between the perimeter of the carcass and the edge of the base.

Cover the carcass with eight to 10 inches of bulking material. Cover the entire pile or windrow with two feet of cover material. The cover material should be placed on the top and sides, with no part of the carcass showing. The pile needs a good cap to keep predators out and seal in heat.

To maintain the compost site, leave the pile or windrow undisturbed to keep heat sealed in during the winter months. Aerate the pile every two months using a loader from early spring until late fall. Make sure sufficient cover material always is present. For more information see NDSU's "Animal Carcass Disposal Options" publication at http://tinyurl.com/carcassdisposal.

Source: Mary Berg, NDSU Livestock Environmental Specialist, (701) 652-2951

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