Mycotoxin contamination is a common farm problem found across the globe. Basically these toxins are produced by molds. Some strains of fungi and molds are commonly known to produce Mycotoxins which impart negative effects on farm animals such as reduced feeding, poor breeding, weak and poor performing animals and also loss of the immune system. All of these adversely affect the farm’s profitability. It therefore becomes crucial to understand molds, Mycotoxins and their mitigation processes to prevent economic losses caused by Mycotoxin contamination.
Molds and their classifications:
Molds can be classified in to two broad classes according to their storage and harvesting process.
- The first is the field fungi that naturally grows on crops even before the crops are harvested. Fusarium sp. is a common example that is widely known for producing Mycotoxins like fumonisin, vomitoxin, DON, zearalenone, T2 etc. These molds require specific climatic conditions to grow and once an infection occurs, it is expected to hit an entire geographical location.
- The second type of mold is the storage mold. These require low moisture concentrations to grow and so reproduce very well in grain storage bins or grain facilities. These may or may not contaminate all the grain present in a bin and so these types are difficult to sample out or to detect. Aflatoxin producing molds such as Penicillium and Aspergillus are common examples of storage molds.
Mold and Mycotoxin Inhibiting agents:
A mycotoxin inhibitor or binder is a special formulation that is added to animal feeds. In activated conditions, these formulations reduce mold infection by putting an end to mold growth. As mold growth is reduced the chance of fungal proliferation in feed grain also reduces leading to a reduced chance of Mycotoxin contamination. Such inhibitors are often a mix of several organic acids, especially propionic acids being the chief component of a inhibitor formulation.
These inhibitors are most commonly used as feed additives and they do a wonderful job in preventing the proliferation of Mycotoxin producing molds.