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Conference paper - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Forage safety and quality hazards

Sporndly, R.


This paper summarises the safety and quality hazards in forages used for animal feed. In contrast to concentrate feeds such as cereal grains and oilseeds, forages often comprise the entire plant and contaminants deposited on farmland end up in the feed. Thus air-borne transport and deposition of contaminants poses a serious threat in forage production. Accidental nuclear fallout causes an acute problem that can be handled by discarding the crop, but also creates a long-lasting problem of soil contamination. Dioxin and PCB deposition from combustion industries is a continuous, non-accidental pollutant process. Dioxin deposition in Europe has steadily decreased in recent decades as a result of environmental awareness and in some areas is now back to levels occurring at the beginning of the last century. The most serious safety threat in forage is probably natural toxins originating from fungal growth in the field or during storage. Endophytic and epiphytic fungal infections causing toxin formation may seriously impair forage quality. The field flora is a possible threat to animal health, but the toxins produced are normally not transferred to products such as meat and milk. Field-derived mycotoxins are particularly common in maize and small-grain crops and to a lesser extent in grass crops. The storage flora, which includes fungi such as Aspergillus and Penicillium, represents a greater risk to animal and human health due to potential transfer of toxins into meat and milk. Storage-derived mycotoxins are produced in all types of improperly made silage.


nuclear fallout; dioxin; deposition; endophytes; mycotoxins; silage

Published in

Book title: Grassland – a European Resource? : Proceedings of the 24th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation Lublin, Poland 3–7 June 2012
ISBN: 978-83-89250-77-3
Publisher: Organizing Committee of the 24th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation;Polish Grassland Society


24th General Meeting of the European-Grassland-Federation, JUN 03-07, 2012, Lublin, POLAND

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

URI (permanent link to this page)