AUSTRIA- Two studies published in, Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal shows that exposure to certain mycotoxins can harm cows’ rumen microbiota, and impact piglet performance.

The first study reports the effects of the mycotoxins Zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisins (FUM) on cow’s rumen microbiota, which previous research has shown that chronic exposure to adversely affects animal health.

ZEN has been shown to have estrogenic effects and cause fertility disturbances, such as vulva swelling and false estrus (Fink-Gremmels, 2008) while Fumonisins are mutagenic and genotoxic mycotoxins, which can cause severe organ pathologies like hepatic and renal damage, as well as lung edemas (Fink-Gremmels, 2008; Gallo et al., 2015).

But the researchers of this study said there is a need for better understanding of the impact of mycotoxins on the rumen microbiota, particularly during moderate- or high-grain feeding, which they said represents an additional challenge to the rumen microbes.

Their study investigated the effects of a short-term exposure to either ZEN or FUM on ruminal fermentation pattern and microbial composition, as well as animal health parameters, including chewing behavior, in six rumen-cannulated dry Holstein cows fed a silage-based diet with 40% grain inclusion.

“We hypothesized that both ZEN and FUM would cause acute adverse shifts in the rumen fermentation pattern and microbial community composition and structure, along with implications on health characteristics due to the mycotoxin burden.”

The exposure to ZEN or FUM led to a reduction of Lachnospiraceae and Prevotellaceae— bacteria that ferment diverse plant polysaccharides to short-chain fatty acids and alcohols—in the rumen.

Additionally, ZEN lowered the ruminal pH and, increased the body temperature up to a mild fever. Similarly, FUM exposure suggested an immediate hepatotoxic effect, as evidenced by increased liver enzyme concentrations, which were accompanied by altered heart and respiratory rates.

Emerging mycotoxins can impact growth performance of pigs

They second study, conducted by Barbara Novak, scientist at DSM, in collaboration with researchers in Brazil and in INRA, France set about investigating the impact of the Fusarium-derived metabolites beauvericin, enniatin B and B1 (EB) alone and with deoxynivalenol DON on the performance and feed consumption as well as on the intestine and liver of 28–29 days old weaning piglets over a time period of 14 days.

The researchers, saw that the co-application of EB and DON (EB + DON) led to a significant decrease in the weight gain and Liver enzyme activities of the animals. Moderate to severe histological lesions also developed in the jejunum, the liver and lymph nodes.

The contamination of feedstuffs with mycotoxins is a major concern in livestock production worldwide, and the increased awareness of their effects on human and animal health has intensified the need to test food and animal feed for high-risk ingredients during grain receiving.

Today’s on-site feed mill mycotoxin test kits enable rapid and accurate quantification of these toxic substances at grain receiving to help operators to accept, reject or segregate grain based on mycotoxin levels. Technology improvements have allowed testing to be taken out of the traditional laboratory setting and placed in the hands of all operators having minimal laboratory experience.

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