Food For Thought

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Weehopper, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. Weehopper

    Weehopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2015
    Just read something rather alarming. It may apply to chicken feed also. I will copy and paste.

    Tammy Welker Sorenson shared Tracy Steele's post to the group: Rex Rabbits of the Pacific NW: Show, Fur and Meat Production.
    15 hrs ·
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    Tracy Steele
    18 hrs ·
    For those of you who do not know, I've pretty much lost every rabbit I own to a chronic wasting disease that turned out to be caused by a serious mistake made by the mill I purchase my feed from, Cache Commodities. The rabbits I have remaining might survive, if I can figure out how to flush the vitamin D and calcium out of their tissues before they literally waste away to nothing like dozens have before them. There is not much research on how to go about that, so I’m trying a number of things that have been suggested. Even if I find a way to save them from the toxicity, it is highly likely that the does will not be able to have litters, due to calcification of the uterus, which will make it difficult for the tissue to stretch and accommodate babies. Nothing is for certain, since this is rather uncharted territory for rabbits, but based upon studies of similar things happening in other animals, the picture is pretty bleak for my animals. There are many others facing the exact same heartbreak and, in some cases, financial ruin over this. There are hundreds of confirmed rabbit deaths from this, and it is just the first drop in the bucket at this stage of the situation. The numbers will grow.

    If you know me, you also know, these weren't simply rabbits. They were my son’s beloved pets and show animals. They were my cherished pets and grand champion show animals, and the source of so much joy in my life. Their loss is more painful than I can ever manage to express. To compound matters, the meat from these rabbits cannot be eaten safely by myself or even my dogs, because the levels of vitamin D could be toxic even to people (If consumed repeatedly- don't panic if you ate one of your rabbits during this time, chances are you're fine- the ones that have the toxic levels built up likely were too thin to be considered for butchering for human consumption. Of course, if you've been eating a lot of them, and you're not feeling so hot- go to the doctor! Better safe than sorry!)

    Keeping this in mind, I would like to address the hysteria over Cache Commodities. It is making me even more heart sick than I already am, to witness innocent people branded, basically, as the devil themselves, and blamed for deaths that are completely unrelated to the vitamin D toxicity issue. I’m writing to set the record straight, and maybe give people some answers to their woes, so we can work on the problem, rather than searching for someone to blame. The catastrophic issue that those who fed Cache Commodities commercial formula is very specific and easy to identify. Did you feed Cache Commodities commercial formula from May 2016 to present? Did you have rabbits that wound up looking like the rabbit in the photo for no apparent reason? If you answered yes to both questions, vitamin D toxicity is probably your problem. Contact Cache mills about making things right.

    Have you had a non-stop plague of strange illnesses that seem to be cyclic? Seems like as soon as you get your rabbits healthy another issue appears... bloat, diarrhea, general less than stellar reproductive and/or growth performance, etc? Your problem is probably from fungus/mold that grows on the raw feed ingredients- so small you'll never see it or even know it is there until you have problems- a little devil known as mycotoxin.

    I don’t have any suggestions for the vitamin D problem; beyond feeding timothy or orchard grass and pull all possible sources of vitamin D and calcium for a bare minimum of 2 weeks. For the other problem? I might have some helpful insight.

    In an isolated study done (results, etc found here: ) they tested 100 samples of rabbit feed. This was a one-time deal, not a repeated or done over a long period of time. It appears they just grabbed 100 samples of various rabbit feed from 30 different companies/lines of rabbit feed at once, and tested them all. In this study, 30% tested positive for mycotoxins. Since there are over 400 known mycotoxins, and the study only tested for a few (as testing is expensive), there were likely far more than 30% of feeds containing mycotoxins. Also, mycotoxins can be present in one batch of feed, and not present at all in the next batch. They can be found in one corner of one bag, and nowhere else in the whole rest of that entire batch of feed.

    Rabbits are not the only animals suffering from mycotoxins. Dairy cattle (This is a great series of slides with lots and lots of information on mycotoxins, even if the focus is on dairy cows:…/breakout-workshop-ses…/mycotoxins)
    Pigs, poultry (…/alltech-2015-harvest-analysis-conf…) and even horses and sheep are all suffering from mycotoxin problems. It isn’t even just a US problem. It is worldwide. Studies in the EU suggest climate change is to blame. ( That would make sense, as severe drought, extreme heat, extreme cold, and too much moisture, all can create surges in mycotoxins in all forages (even pasture and lawn grass). It has become such a problem, they’ve even considered and researched gamma-radiation to try and kill every mycotoxin in feed. (…/mycotoxin-decontamination-of-an…). Many feed companies (including Cache Commodities) are trying experimental binding agents in the feed, trying to catch any mycotoxins that they might miss when screening/testing the raw ingredients going into the feed. There are mixed reports on how well they work. (…/Mycotoxin-binders-achieve-le…/ ).

    Long story short: No matter what feed you are feeding, it is going to cause stomach issues at some point during the time you are feeding it. Odds are, your feed supplier (be they large or small) will state that the feed tested fine. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or that they’re lying. The sample they tested was fine, or it wouldn’t have gone out to be put onto the feed store shelves. (Even if you believe they are Satan himself- businesses don’t stay in business long if they routinely kill off their customers- they’d pull the feed for financial reasons alone). The toxin you experience (or even test for, if you send the test out) may not even have been one they test for routinely. There are over 400 known toxins, as previously stated, and testing is not cheap. There is no one panel that tests for every possible toxin known to man (or animal). Or, the other possibility is that it might be one that grew in a corner of the bag of feed… or was only found in the very bottom of the batch, etc. With our weather going crazy, this is going to be a problem all of us are going to be facing for the foreseeable future, no matter what brand of feed you choose to feed, or what region of the world you call home.

    So, how about we use this tragedy to brainstorm, pooling our experiences, and what we have tried to treat various symptoms of the problems we are ALL facing nationwide, instead of pointing fingers and painting devil horns on a convenient target? We have a common enemy: mycotoxin. Let’s team up and figure out how to beat it, rather than tearing one another apart. This includes the feed mill companies which don’t make a profit and can’t stay in business if our animals can’t stay alive. I’ve said it before, but I’m going to re-state it here. As soon as Cache learned about the problem with the commercial feed, they alerted as many people as they could, as fast as they could, to include calling me on a weekend when they’re closed, to make sure I could spread the word at a rabbit show they knew I was attending. They have been pleasant, apologetic, and doing everything they can to make things right for their tragic mistake, in my experience. Please, in a tragedy, can we show people our best sides, instead of our ugly, finger pointing, angry, worst sides? Thank you. (Picture is of my poor Moonie that I lost last week, the day I took her to the vet, trying to figure out why so many of my rabbits were starving to death in spite of eating like pigs. This is what vitamin D toxicosis looks like.)
  2. Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay

    Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mycotoxins are a challenge for the feed industry for several reasons. First there are mycotoxins that can caused by stress while the plant is growing then there are ones that can be caused by mold growth during storage of the grains. Next the testing procedures for evaluating mycotoxins are based upon a 100 gram sample of grain from either a 50,000 pound load of grain or an even larger grain bin. Finally, the feed industry only can test for a limited number of the more insidious mycotoxins namely Aflatoxin, DON, Zearalanone, T2. There are myriad more mycotoxins that may be present in grains but we as an industry are ignorant of their effects because they are not well known or understood.
  3. The Myco man

    The Myco man New Egg

    Oct 29, 2016

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