What is a mycotoxin? [Your Animal Nutrition Questions Answered]


What Is a Mycotoxin and How Can It Harm My Animals? Mycotoxins cost the agricultural sector billions of dollars
in economic losses each year according to the FAO. Aaround 50% of the world’s
crop harvest might be contaminated with mycotoxins which are known to reduce
feed quality and impair animal health and performance. I’m going to explain
what mycotoxins are and how they get into animal feed and the potential
consequences for farm animals. Let’s start with the definition of mycotoxins. Toxins are poisons and the prefix mykos
indicates that they come from microscopic fungi and molds. So why do
mycotoxins exist? We do not know why mycotoxins exist but one possible
explanation is that they give the fungi that produced them a competitive
advantage over other organisms. How do mycotoxins get into feed stuff then?
While over 400 different mycotoxins metabolites have been identified the
fungi that produced them can be categorized into two groups:
field fungi such as Fusarium which typically produce mycotoxins in the
field and pre harvest and we have storage fungi such as Aspergillus and
Penicillium that typically occur after harvest and post-harvest. Though
awareness of mycotoxins has risen in recent years they still present a
significant and sometimes overlooked challenge to the animal protein industry
for two reasons mycotoxins are difficult to detect they are invisible to the
naked eye tasteless and they can cause harm to animals even small amounts. They
are difficult to mitigate. Mycotoxins are chemically stable and temperature
resistant so they readily withstand the normal feed manufacturing processes. Application of a fungicide is not an effective mitigation method either
because it affects the fungi which are living organisms but it doesn’t affect
the toxin themselves. The negative effects of mycotoxins fall into two
categories first we observe clinical effects at high concentrations though in
absolute term contamination levels are measured in parts per billion. That is
the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar poured into an Olympic sized swimming
pool. Second we see more common complications at subclinical levels where the animal is exposed to lower concentrations of
mycotoxins for a prolonged period of time. Often clinical symptoms are not
observed though general performances or health issues can occur. Some of the most
serious effects of toxicity in animals include immune suppression fertility
reduction disruption of gut integrity decreased nutrient utilization loss of
appetite and performance losses. To learn more about mycotoxins visit mycotoxins
.info. For strategies to protect your animals visit BIOMIN.net
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