mycotoxins in animal feed

Natural Contamination of Mycotoxins in Horse Feed

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by different types of moulds and fungi. They are a secondary metabolite that develop on horse feed such as hay and dry feed which may have been stored improperly. They can only be harmful to the horse once ingested or inhaled through food or dust particles.


The cause for fungi to develop in the feed is mainly poor storage conditions during the spring and summer seasons, when the temperatures are damp but still high in humidity. The heat and damp allow mycotoxins to thrive and grow within horse feed as long as the level of moisture is over 14%. Once mould contaminates the feed it will naturally produce water, heat, and carbon dioxide.


There are multiple different variants of  mycotoxins including; Deoxynivalenol (DON), Ochratoxins A, Aflatoxins B1/ B2, Aflatoxins G1/G2, Fumonisins, Diacetoxyscirpenol, T2 toxin, Paxillin, Ergot alkaloids and Zearalenone.


Mycotoxins have adverse health effects on the horses when digested.  These effects are more manageable reactions such as:

  • Colic
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of the horse’s appetite
  • Growth restrictions
  • Suppression on the immune system
  • Gastrointestinal upset


All these symptoms above can have negative effects on a horse’s performance.


If mass consumption of mycotoxins has happened over a long period of time this may cause serious reactions such as:

  • Paralysis
  • Brain lesions
  • Liver problems
  • Neurological disorders


These can all be prevented if the dry feed is stored properly, and if the feed is tested regularly for multiple mycotoxins.


Randox food recognise the severity of mycotoxin contamination in feed and the effects it can have on the animal. To help the industry Randox food have developed a variety of different easy to use tests, to ensure the quality and safety of horse feed in the industry.


Randox Food’s Myco 9 Array allows for the detection of up to 9 prevalent mycotoxins from a single sample of cereal or cereal based feed, including aflatoxin G1/G2, ochratoxin A, fumonisins, deoxynivalenol, diacetoxyscirpenol, T2 toxin, zearalenone & paxillin.


Randox Food Diagnostics also offer an Ergot Alkaloids Elisa in line with new Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1399.


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