Mycotoxins can harm all types of poultry, and mycotoxicosis can be quite harmful to them, so commercial producers must regularly evaluate and reduce the risk to their facilities.
By Dr. Shahid Ali Rajput
Mycotoxins are dangerous, naturally occurring compounds that certain moulds create (fungi). These fungi typically develop on feed stocks and proliferate inclement weather. There are currently more than 500 known mycotoxins, and this number is continuously rising.
Effect of Mycotoxin in poultry
The clinical symptoms of mycotoxicosis might be challenging to identify because different poultry species react differently to mycotoxin exposures. The most accurate way to identify mycotoxicosis in big flocks is by careful surveillance, symptom recognition, and postmortem diagnoses—combined with sufficient feed analysis. Depending on the kind of bird, different mycotoxin exposure risks apply to different poultry species. Because they live longer and are more susceptible to mycotoxicosis than chickens and ducks, turkeys, layers, and breeders are in a higher risk category. Due to their immature immune systems, which make them more susceptible to contaminated diet, younger birds are also in a greater risk category. Since mycotoxins have a stronger impact at higher levels and can have detrimental, synergistic effects when interacting with other mycotoxins, the mycotoxin risk level also depends on which mycotoxins are present in the feed and the number of mycotoxins in the feed..
Sources of Mycotoxin
About 60–70% of all the feed for chickens is made up of grains. The four main grain sources used are corn, wheat, soybean meal, and barley, however they are also thought to have the greatest risk of mycotoxin contamination. Climate can have a big impact on the risk of exposure because mycotoxins grow in warm, damp conditions.
Rarely do mycotoxins appear on their own. Multiple mycotoxins are frequently found together in finished feeds, allowing them to interact and produce additional or synergistic effects.
Symptoms of Mycotoxin in poultry Bird
- Carcass condemnation
- Increased mortality rates
- Increased susceptibility to diseases
- Leg problems
- Poor eggshell quality
- Poor growth rates
- Reduced egg production
- Reduced feed consumption
- Reduced feed conversion efficiency
- Reduced fertility
Management of Mycotoxin poultry
Assessing the entire problem, from the farm to the feed mill and from risk assessment to feed management, is necessary for effective mycotoxin management. Mycotoxin contamination can have a wide range of symptoms, but the end result is always decreased performance and lost revenue. The key is lowering exposure to these dangerous drugs. An efficient mycotoxin management strategy must focus on detection, prevention, and mitigation. The potential hidden threats from mycotoxins can be found by routinely analysing feedstuffs. A highly polluted sample should not be interpreted as a bad crop overall. A “clean” sample does not imply that the entire batch of feed is free of mycotoxin. For the flock to remain healthy and perform at its best, proper mycotoxin management is crucial to preventing unforeseen losses.
Ways to reduce Mycotoxin in Poultry feed
Mycotoxins-producing fungi are typically found in the field, therefore crops are typically exposed to them fairly early on. The concentration of mycotoxins in grain products is the key to understanding the potential effects of mycotoxins on the health and productivity of livestock, as mycotoxins are often present in all crops. Mycotoxins are produced in response to the weather, particularly during the harvesting season. In general, moisture and warm temperatures promote the development of mycotoxin-producing mould. This explains why crops with a higher mycotoxin content during rainy harvesting seasons compared to those during dry harvesting seasons. Grain storage has the potential to either introduce mould or promote its growth, which will then produce mycotoxins. The main area for regulating mycotoxins in grain is exposed grain and feed stored in filthy bins or silos. Silos’ metal walls retain heat even in the warmest parts of the day. Mycotoxin exposure management should begin at harvest by eliminating severely contaminated grains when it is practical. Eliminating grain that has been extensively contaminated with mycotoxins is one of the most economical ways to do so. Not all grain is similarly mycotoxin-contaminated. The majority of the crop’s total contamination is concentrated in a small number of grains. A grain separator that employs air flow to elevate and separate very light kernels from the undamaged grain can be used to remove the badly contaminated grain because it is significantly lighter than non-contaminated grain. Although the initial investment in a grain processor or feed mill is significant, long-term savings are assured. Knowing which grains are infected will make it easier to remove them. Look for Penn State Extension publications that explain how to recognise, manage, and use mycotoxin-infected grains if you want to understand how to spot contaminated grains. But in order to successfully manage the mycotoxin load, extra techniques are required if you buy mixed feed or ground grain.
If you’ve bought infected feed or grain, you should mix it with high-quality, uncontaminated grains. Most mycotoxins generally have a range at which they begin to significantly impair animal productivity. If mycotoxin-contaminated grains must be utilised, diluting the damaged batches of grain is a practical way to lessen the mycotoxins’ effects on cattle that eat that grain. The practical effectiveness of this method for feed makers is, however, decreased because multiple sampling and mycotoxin analysis are required to identify the content of mycotoxin in every batch of feed. Another suggestion is to spray organic acids on the raw materials that are affected before dilution. Once the contaminated material has been diluted, this will destroy the majority of the fungus contamination and restrict the generation of mycotoxin. Mycotoxin binders may also be an alternative to lessen the effect of mycotoxins on chickens if contamination with mycotoxins persists despite attempts to dilute the diet. Mycotoxin binders often work well to successfully bind non-polar (aflatoxin) mycotoxins. Since most clays naturally do this, the majority of binders on the market are very good at binding this toxin. The majority of binders can bind both nutrients and poisons simultaneously, however if binders are used for only a brief time, this shouldn’t be a problem. If mycotoxin binders must be used for an extended period of time, you might want to look into particular porous surface clays that are exceptionally good at binding toxins or modify your diet to include more vitamins and minerals.When choosing a binder to use on mycotoxins that are not members of the aflatoxin family, it is advisable to conduct a critical examination of mycotoxin binders. Some mycotoxin binders on the market with claims of “added technology” are frequently more expensive than generic options and have inadequate live animal testing. Many of the current in vitro assays used to show that mycotoxin binders work are (in the absence of animals). Binders that have only been studied in vitro might have been subjected to irrational conditions such a 24-hour contact time with the substrate or pH ranges that don’t closely resemble physiological pH ranges. In the natural world, the digestive tract’s pH is erratic and the toxins’ contact times with the intestinal mucosa can be brief. For instance, in chickens, feed enters and exits the duodenum in less than 15 minutes, and the majority of the ingested material is eliminated from the chicken in 6 to 9 hours. It is useless to measure in vitro binding capacity during a 24-hour period with a steady pH. It’s also crucial to remember that binders won’t remove mycotoxins from dry feed. Mycotoxin binding won’t begin until the animal consumes the feed (binders need an aqueous substrate to bind toxins). Due to this delay, even the best binder won’t immediately reduce the initial harmful effect after feeding. Even when using extremely powerful dietary mycotoxin binders, dietary binders do not begin binding to mycotoxins for several minutes. In conclusion, exposure of livestock to high mycotoxin levels reduces animal productivity. In poultry, mycotoxins harm the digestive, immunological, and reproductive systems. Preventing the consumption of mycotoxins by removing contaminated kernels, dilution, or use of mycotoxin binders. There are benefits and drawbacks to each strategy for handling mycotoxin-contaminated feed and components. For aflatoxins, which are simple to control by the majority of commercially available binders, mycotoxin binders are common and particularly effective. Other than aflatoxin, products that claim to be able to bind or inactivate toxins need to be carefully considered and further inspected. Apply these suggestions, along with others from Penn State Extension, to your feed quality and mycotoxin management programs the day, transmitting that heat to the nearby grain. This year, be cautious of the effects of mycotoxins on your animals. Inside the silo or bin, moisture accumulates as the temperature drops. Mold can grow and produce mycotoxin in the ideal conditions of heat, humidity, and mould contamination on the walls of a filthy silo. Young animals or small herds often have feed stored in bins and silos for longer periods of time (more than seven days), which raises concerns about mycotoxin contamination. On the other hand, a system of management for mycotoxin exposure includes more than just clean storage bins.
Author: Dr. Shahid Ali Rajput