Mycotoxin challenges are an increasing concern in animal production. Around 25-30% of agricultural commodities are contaminated with mycotoxins, accounting for significant economic losses. One of the most prevalent mycotoxins is zearalenone (ZEN). In recent years, around 50% of all feed was contaminated with the mycotoxin ZEN.
The molecular structure of ZEN resembles the struc-ture of estrogen, allowing ZEN to bind to estrogen receptors which can result in reproductive disorders and infertility in farm animals. A characteristic sign of ZEN contamination in gilts is vulva hypertrophy (VH). Symptoms of VH include swelling and redness of the vulva. The high prevalence highlights the need for the inclusion of mycotoxin binders in animal feed to reduce the potential impact on performance and animal health. However, this statement raises the question of whether all mycotoxin binders have the same effect.
Evaluating the effect of mycotoxin binders
Orffa Additives, in collaboration with a well-known consultant in the Philippines, performed a practical trial to evaluate the effects of 3 different commercial mycotoxin binders on their ability to alleviate the negative effects caused by ZEN. On a commercial farm experiencing ZEN intoxication symptoms such as VH, the 3 binders were compared in 2 different batches of gilts starting in a different age stage (nursery and growing gilts). The first binder was based on yeast, algae, plant extracts, minerals (A). The second binder was based on bentonite, enzymes, biological components, plant and algae extracts, and yeast (B) and the third binder was Excential Toxin Plus, including 2 clay minerals, yeast, organic acids, and betaine (C).
The most important results of the 3 binders on reducing the negative effects of ZEN include:
- Improved performance
- Reduced VH cases
- Estrus before 180 days of age
Improved performance under ZEN contamination
One of the direct economic losses related to mycotoxin contamination is reduced growth performance. This is an important parameter to take into account when determining the effects of the different mycotoxin binders. When comparing the performance results of nursery gilts over a period from 73-180 days of age and growing gilts over a period of 115-180 days of age, for gilts that receive 3 different types of mycotoxin binders, differences in performance are found. Gilts from the third group (C) had higher daily gain and final body weight, and lower FCR compared to the other groups (Figure 1).