Mycotoxins impact on animal production
Article written by the veterinarian Elvira Cano in which explains the origin of these toxigenic fungi and the treatment of diseases that they cause
Fungi that grow in food are known since ancient times and they have been used as direct food, to improve them or with therapeutic purposes. But there are certain species of fungi that produce toxic metabolites, known as mycotoxins. The term mycotoxin derives from the Greek words "mykes" (mushrooms) and "toksicons" (poison). These are secondary metabolites produced by certain toxigenic fungi, which cause harmful effects on animal health. Mycotoxins are a defense mechanism to help fungi colonize the host organism.
The presence of mycotoxins in food and feed is potentially dangerous for animal and human health. Its appearance annually costs millions of euros expenses throughout the world, causing problems in human health, animal health and agricultural products, which have to be discarded because they are unacceptable in national and international trade.
The presence of fungi does not necessarily imply the production of mycotoxins: there may be mycotoxins in absence of fungi, since the fungi may have been eliminated, but not the metabolites. Each genus of fungi can produce different mycotoxins, while a certain type of mycotoxin can be produced by different species of fungi.
The contamination of feed by several mycotoxins at the same time is frequent. These combinations of mycotoxins have synergistic effects that worsen the negative consequences for animals. The specific type of mycotoxin and concentration levels vary according to different factors: climate, temperature and humidity, seasonal changes, weather patterns, etc. Hence the difficulty of predicting, perceiving and preventing their presence.
MYCOTOXINS IN VEGETABLES
The presence of mycotoxins in vegetables may be due to:
- Infection of the plant in the field by the pathogenic fungi.
- The colonization and/or growth of saprobic fungal or postharvest pathogens on stored fruits and grains.
- The saprophic fungal development during the storage of the products already processed.
In that way, the factors that affect the presence of mycotoxins in feed may depend on: the raw material, the harvest and the storage or manufacturing feed conditions. Once the contamination is produced, the mycotoxins are very stable and difficult to eliminate, so it is important to take preventive measures to reduce their impact on the agri-food industry, since they are a threaten for the safety of a high percentage of the world's food crops.
The intensity of mycotoxicosis is determined by different factors, such as the animal's immune status, live weight and age, feed composition, the quantity and type of mycotoxin, the possible synergism between mycotoxins and the sanitary conditions of the farm, among others. The presence of mycotoxins in the feed, in addition to the different specific clinical effects that they generate in animals, can condition the digestion, metabolism and transport of certain nutrients in the animal, which leads to a deterioration of the conversion rate.
Therefore, in the last decade, the use of mycotoxin binders in the manufacture livestock feed technology to avoid the economic losses that contaminated feed cause in the animal industry. The company Biovet S.A. has developed a patented process, by which the structure of natural silicates is modified to form a patented molecule called Silicoglycidol, with a structure that optimizes the adsorption of mycotoxins, which are not desorbed in any of the different digestive tract conditions, so they are expelled with the feces.Silicoglycidol has an optimized surface to bind mycotoxins with a high efficiency at a low dose. Alquerfeed Antitox is Biovet’s product composed at a 100% by Silicoglycidol.
EFFECT OF A MYCOTOXIN BINDER
In a pig farm, after a serious problem of high levels of zearalenone in the feed, they increased the dose of Alquerfeed Antitox from 0.5 kg/tn to 2 kg/tn after the first clinical signs of the intoxication (Image 1).
The images show the improvement in piglets’ condition after two weeks of treatment with Alquerfeed Antitox.
Image 1: First signs of intoxication.
Image 2: First week of treatment.
Images 3 and 4: Second week of treatment.