Salvaging Flood-Damage Feeds

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the Philippines. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and several provinces.

However, floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.

Be aware of flood hazards, especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Thus, every province or community is at risk.

For instance, flood waters have soaked many grain bins on farms and at commercial elevators. With only a few exceptions, flood-soaked grain is not useable for feed or food.

Flood-damaged grain is adulterated grain because of the potential for many contaminants to enter through the water. Even field-tile water contains animal waste products, high chemical levels, and other contaminants. Thus, flood-damaged grain should be destroyed, never blended. Farmers should also note the following:

  •   After the water drains off, corn will stay at 30% moisture and soybeans at 25% moisture.
  •   The moisture will not travel more than a few inches above the flood line.
  •   Separate the damaged grain from the unspoiled grain.
  •   Mycotoxins are likely in rewetted grain. Warm, wet conditions are ideal for mold growth. Soaked grain will spoil within a day or two at summer temperatures as the heat and moisture given off from spoilage moves upward, rapidly affecting the the rest of the grain.
  •   Rain-damaged grain can be saved by drying and cleaning. But it should be tested for mycotoxins before use. Use reconditioned grain immediately.
  •   Take care not to track or mix mud, gravel, etc., from flooded grounds with good grain during salvage operations. These materials are potentially toxic.
  •   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows for reconditioning-washing and drying at high temperatures-in cases when the flood water did not remain long and if it is known that the water did not contain contaminants.

In the rare situations where the water was not contaminated, the grain may be reconditioned. For feed, on site-producers have three alternatives:

  • dry the grain and then feed it immediately to livestock;
  • feed the wet grain immediately to the livestock; or
  • ensile the grain for livestock feed.

Flood Damaged Feed

Wet feeds may produce mold spores, some of which are toxic to certain livestock. If you must feed wet or flood-damaged feed, proceed very cautiously. Watch animals carefully for any sign of illness. Mixed feeds, grains and roughages which have heated or spoiled will have little nutritive value for livestock, depending on the extent of the damage. Below are points farmers should consider when giving flood-damaged feed to livestock.

  • Do not feed heated, badly molded or sour feeds, deteriorated cottonseed, or moldy legume hays to any livestock.
  • Spread wet feeds out to dry as soon as possible. Dried feeds can be fed in limited amounts to beef cattle and non-lactating dairy stock.
  • Use extreme caution when feeding moldy protein concentrates.
  • Mix moldy feed with 90 to 95 percent sound feeds at first. Watch cattle carefully. Beef cattle on full feed may go off feed, and milk production in dairy cattle may be lowered. Also, some animals may exhibit poor gains or reduced energy, and young animals are more susceptible than mature animals. Some animals may also develop respiratory or nervous disorders from inhaling mold spores.
  • Do not feed moldy feed to horses, sheep, swine or pregnant cattle because the animals may die. Do not also feed moldy feed to lactating dairy cows.
  • Some diseases are spread by water. Any flooded feed could be contaminated, even when dried. Watch animals for signs of nervousness, listlessness, going off feed, and general unthriftness. Temporarily discontinue feeding questionable ration components until a veterinarian confirms that the feed ration isn’t related to the animal’s malady.
  • Contact a veterinarian if you observed any undesirable symptoms in the animals being fed salvage feed.

source:, author: Jaime Abella Sison,  DVM, FPCVFP

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