All stakeholders engaged in the feed and food chain have since long been aware that mycotoxins need to be eliminated as they pose a substantial health hazard. Thereby one clear and common goal springs to mind: healthy, thriving animals. Mycotoxins are spread all over the world and affect 25% of the world’s grain production (FAO data). Moreover, most mycotoxins are very stable and are resistant to different storage and processing conditions. It can also be used as a preventive measure to counteract mycotoxicosis.
All about mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxic metabolites produced by fungi. These fungi grow on raw materials (plants, grains) in the field or during storage of raw materials and feed. Mycotoxin production is mainly related to climatic conditions such as temperature and humidity. Mycotoxins are very stable and resistant to different storage and processing conditions. It is difficult to analyse mycotoxins. They are not visible and have no odour. Moreover, they are found in very small amounts, parts per million (ppm) or even parts per billion (ppb).
Top 5 ways to manage mycotoxins
The use of certain by-products and alternative feed ingredients (such as DDGS) can even increase the risk of mycotoxin contamination.
Once present, these toxic metabolites resist severe processing conditions. Consequently ingestion of contaminated material may affect animal health and cause mycotoxicosis, inducing productivity losses as well as animal health impairment. The toxicity of mycotoxins varies according to the dose, duration of exposure, animal species, age, health status, environmental and handling factors. The main mycotoxins of concern in animal production are Aflatoxins, Trichothecenes (Deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin), Zearalenone, Ochratoxin A and Fumonisins. In silages, apart from the commonly known mycotoxins, also specific types of mycotoxins may be present, like Roquefortine and Mycophenolic acid. In pastures, less known mycotoxins such as Lolitrem B and Ergovaline may endanger ruminants.