Mycotoxins – a hidden threat for livestock health!


Mycotoxins – toxic waste products of fungi that represent a global threat to agriculture. Contaminating an animal feed, they enter the organism and cause disease. The danger is that there is no methods which would provide 100% of protection against mycotoxins. These toxic substances may be produced during cultivation and harvesting crops, transportation or storage. The increased air humidity, temperature 20 to 28 ° C, the lack of light, enough oxygen may provoke the development of mycotoxin producers..

To date, more than 250 species of fungi, which are capable of producing several hundred mycotoxins, are known. Unfortunately, the best research laboratories in the world are able to identify only about 15 types of mycotoxins. It is important to know that the presence of several toxic substances in the feed increases the potential for harm. Therefore, if at least 2 mycotoxin are found in the feed, you should take immediate action! Remember that mycotoxins can significantly disrupt the functioning of kidneys, liver, blood-forming organs, cause disturbances in the central nervous system, reduce the immune system, cause disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract.

The presence of mycotoxins in feed is manifested in different ways:

  • Reduction of the reproductive qualities of the animals;
  • Low efficiency of feed utilization;
  • Weakened immune system in animals;
  • Reduced the effectiveness of vaccination and the use of drugs;
  • Increased risk of disease by coccidiosis, colibacillosis etc .;
  • Unexpected expenses for the treatment and prevention measures for animals.


Additionally, mycotoxins endanger the health not only animals but also human. Accumulating in the meat, milk and eggs, they can enter the human body and cause serious illness up to cancer.


Dangerous toxins in cereals 

Mycotoxins – undervalued problem. Toxic substances have mutagenic, carcinogenic and immunosuppressive properties. Most of them are not destroyed at high temperatures and are resistant to acids.


The most common mycotoxins:

  • Aflatoxin – affects corn, peanuts;
  • DON (Deoxynivalenol) – affects wheat, corn;
  • Zearalenone – affects corn, oats;
  • Fumonisin – affects sorghum, corn;
  • Ochratoxin – affects barley, oats;
  • T-2 toxin – affects wheat, corn and oats.


One of the features of mycotoxins – the capacity for mutual reinforcement (synergy). That is, if several mycotoxins are in the feed, their toxicity will be substantially increased.


The impact of mycotoxins on the organism of cattle

Cattle are extremely sensitive to mycotoxins. Depending on the concentration the toxic substances can manifest itself in different ways, obvious clinical signs can not be detected, but lowering of productivity and diseases can not be avoided.

The most dangerous for the cows are aflatoxin, ochratoxin, zearalenone and DON.

Aflatoxin – takes the first place among the most poisonous and dangerous mycotoxins. It affects the liver, kidney, spleen, heart. It reduces feed conversion, resulting in lameness and cystic ovaries. Also aflatoxins depress the immune system, reduce the production of a protein.

Ochratoxins – a group of mycotoxins that are produced by microscopic fugi of the genus Penicillium and Aspergillus. Ochratoxin reduces milk yield, damages the kidney and can cause bloody diarrhea.

Zearalenone – the main cause of abortion and reduction the reproductive function in cows. It causes the ovarian atrophy, reduces testosterone production. The main symptoms of poisoning by toxin: vaginal discharge, breast enlargement, swelling of the genitals.

DON (deoxynivalenol) – reduces milk yield, harms reproductive health, reduces feed intake. It depresses the immune system, which leads to frequent respiratory infections.

Moulds in the process of life are able to produce up to 15 different types of mycotoxins. Two or more mycotoxins are several times stronger thus increasing the toxic effect.


Mycotoxins cause swine diseases

Mycotoxins – one of the major causes of swine disease. These toxic substances can harm almost every organ, disrupt its function and cause failures.

The most dangerous mycotoxins for pigs:

  • Aflatoxins;
  • Trichothecenes;
  • Ochratoxins;
  • vomitoxin;
  • Fumonisins;
  • Zearalenone.


Aflatoxins in pigs cause stunted growth, inhibit the immune system, affect the liver, kidneys. Due aflatoxins feed conversion is deteriorated, weight gain is reduced. In addition, toxic substances cause adipose infiltration and at high doses can lead to the death of the animal.

Trichothecenes cause vomiting, decreased immunity. Also mycotoxins cause disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, reduce the rate of growth, affect the oral mucosa.


Ochratoxins violate glycogen metabolism, cause nephropathy, stunting,  immunosuppression.


Vomitoxin causes feed refusal, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased weight gain of an animal.


Fumonisins reduce immunity, which increases susceptibility to different diseases, especially of respiratory system. Poisoning with fumonisins causes fluid accumulation in the pleural cavity and lung edema.


Zearalenone causing irreparable harm to the reproductive function. The toxin causes of uterine prolapse, abortion, breast hypertrophy.


Mycotoxins are enemies №1 for agriculture. They affect feeds, harm the health of animals, cause losses to business. For many years, farmers are struggling with these toxic substances. The main thing is  to identify and understand the cause of the bad state of health of livestock on time. If the matter is mycotoxins, then we must act immediately. It is important to remember, that the degree of effects of mycotoxins on the animal depends on the type of toxin, its concentration and duration of ingestion of contaminated feed.