Mycotoxins, which are produced by molds, can negatively impact animal health. As the planet warms, it is believed that many places will see increased mycotoxin production.

A range of agriculture practices can impact mycotoxins, including adsorbents that can help prevent absorption of mycotoxins within the animal’s gut.

Support animal health and welfare (mycotoxins)

Mycotoxins are chemical compounds, such as penicillin, that are produced by molds and can have a range of different effects when consumed by humans and/or animals. Penicillin is perhaps the best-known example of a mycotoxin, while there are more than 500 known mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced when mold grows on feed or food sources, such as grains. 

When feed contaminated with mycotoxins is consumed by animals, it can negatively impact their health by making them more susceptible to challenges from bacteria and viruses. This can lead to higher levels of morbidity and mortality, representing a welfare risk, while also resulting in greater levels of resources required to support the herd or flock. Some key facts related to mycotoxins include: 

  1. More than 97% of feed contains mycotoxins (Weaver et al., 2021).
  2. Lower levels of multiple mycotoxins can be more harmful than individual mycotoxins (Kipper et al., 2020; Weaver et al., 2020; Andretta et al., 2016).
  3. A significant element of the damage caused by mycotoxins takes place in the gastrointestinal tract (Alessane-Kpembi et al., 2019; Weaver et al., 2020).
  4. Mycotoxins can negatively affect an animal’s immune system, resulting in poorer health metrics as well as the failure of vaccine programs (Grenier and Applegate 2013, da Silva et al 2018, Liu et al 2020, Savard et al 2015).

Unfortunately, there is no simple approach to preventing and/or removing mycotoxins from feeds being consumed by humans and animals. Climate plays an important role in the lifecycle of the mold and can therefore significantly influence the amount of mycotoxins produced.  As the Earth warms, it is suggested that many temperate areas will face the risk of greater mycotoxin production.   

Jouany et al., 2007 and Fumagalli et al., 2021 demonstrate clearly the many steps involved in influencing the level of mycotoxins in feed grains, from agricultural practices such as tillage and crop rotation to the storage and processing of grains. Within this, some important components include:  

man using scales
  1. Tillage is currently seen as one of the steps that can have a significant impact on the reduction of mold growth and mycotoxin production in the subsequent crop (Pfordt et al., 2020). With the move to reduce land tillage, to aid carbon sequestration, an important mycotoxin control point will be lost.
  2. Grain cleaning/sorting can remove the smaller, damaged, discolored grains and fragments from a given batch. These grains typically contain higher levels of contamination and therefore significant reduction in mycotoxin levels can be achieved, depending on the crop and target mycotoxin.
  3. Mycotoxin analysis is seen as an important step to determine the extent of contamination of a given batch of grain. This knowledge can help to drive decision-making regarding how that grain is treated and/or used within the feed and food chain.
  4. Mycotoxin-deactivating technologies offer a final step to help reduce the negative effects of mycotoxins on the animal. Many approaches have been evaluated with the most popular being that of mycotoxin adsorbents, which act as inert molecules that possess the ability to form an interaction with mycotoxins within the animal’s digestive tract, preventing subsequent absorption of the toxin.



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