With growing economic pressures, livestock producers are keeping a close eye on costs. Coping with raw materials which may be lower quality while at the same time maintaining animal performance means producers should be employing a mycotoxin mitigation strategy, says Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production.
In today’s Industry Perspectives, its Senior Technical Services Manager, Dr Sangita Jalukar, explains that mycotoxin mitigation products go beyond just binding mycotoxins. They can irreversibly prevent or reduce the effects of mycotoxins by detoxifying them or blocking their toxic effects and prevent them from crossing the gut barrier.
Depending on the type of mitigation product, it can have broad spectrum efficacy against multiple mycotoxins. And with more than 65% of feed samples containing more than one mycotoxin, a strategy that is effective against multiple mycotoxins is needed, she says.
Dr Jalukar also discusses the results of some recent trials in breeding sows and nursery piglets involving the company’s BG-MAX mycotoxin mitigation product and its “Prevent, Protect, Resilience” strategy for managing risks from multiple mycotoxins.
[Feedinfo] We hear a lot about mycotoxins now, and they appear to be an increasing problem. Is there a tendency to regard them as one specific problem - are all mycotoxins the same?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] So, there two specific categories of concern. The first category contains mycotoxins that are regulated in food and pose a food safety risk. The main mycotoxin in this category is aflatoxin. And farmers must ensure they are below the threshold levels established to sell their milk or meat. Some European countries have set limits for ochratoxin contamination in meat as well. To meet these regulations, farmers use mycotoxin control methods to stop the translocation of mycotoxins from gut to milk or tissue.
The second category contains mycotoxins that impact animal health and productivity. To maintain health, production efficiency and profitability farmers use different methods to minimize the impact of mycotoxins.
[Feedinfo] Given that mycotoxin awareness has grown, some livestock producers may be choosing to feed a mycotoxin binder to overcome issues, while others might opt for mycotoxin mitigation products. Can you explain the difference between the two, and the benefits and drawbacks they have?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] Mycotoxin binders are a type of mycotoxin mitigation strategy. They bind a few select mycotoxins and depending on the binder, the bound mycotoxins can dissociate from the binder when the pH changes in the hind gut and can still cause negative effects. Additionally, some binders can bind essential micronutrients in feed.
Compared to that, mycotoxin mitigation products go beyond just binding mycotoxins. They can irreversibly prevent or reduce the effects of mycotoxins by detoxifying them or blocking their toxic effects and prevent them from crossing the gut barrier.
Depending on the type of mitigation product, it can have broad spectrum efficacy against multiple mycotoxins. And with more than 65% of feed samples containing more than one mycotoxin, a strategy that is effective against multiple mycotoxins is needed.
[Feedinfo] You are well known for your mycotoxin mitigation product BG-MAX. Can you talk us through how it has developed, what it is, and how it works?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] Understanding mycotoxin damage at a cellular level (cytotoxicity) was a central pillar in developing BG-MAX as our mycotoxin mitigation solution.
Through years of research with our refined functional carbohydrate (RFC) technology, we identified a combination of select RFCs and bentonite to formulate BG-MAX. Using a “Prevent, Protect and Resilience” strategy, BG-MAX binds mycotoxins and prevents them from causing any damage. BG-MAX also protects from any cell damage in the gut, prevents mycotoxin translocation from the gut and improves resilience to mycotoxins in the host. Its ability to bind mycotoxins and to reduce epithelial cell cytotoxicity or cell death caused by a variety of mycotoxins has been tested in different systems in vitro. It has also been proven to be highly effective in reducing negative effects caused by mixed mycotoxin-contaminated feed fed to poultry, pigs and ruminants.
[Feedinfo] Pigs are more susceptible to dietary mycotoxins compared to other livestock and poultry, with young pigs and breeding animals being most sensitive of all. In the case of breeding sows, can you talk about the impacts, and some of the research you have been doing looking at controlling mycotoxin contamination in their diets?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] You are right! Sows are particularly sensitive to zearalenone and vomitoxin (DON). Exposure to these two mycotoxins reduces their reproductive performance resulting in fewer pigs weaned per sow per year and reduced profitability for pig farmers.
In our studies, sows were fed gestation diets naturally contaminated with moderate levels of DON and zearalenone to simulate practical on-farm conditions. Supplementing mycotoxin-contaminated feed with BG-MAX significantly reduced the mortality rate by about 4.5%, improved farrowing rate by almost 10% and fertility rates by almost 5% in the sows. This can have a big impact on the number of pigs weaned per sow.
[Feedinfo] Nursery pigs, too, are very sensitive to mycotoxins, and another piece of recent joint research with North Carolina State University and the University of Missouri highlighted the potential long-term impact on performance. You have carried out work looking at the mycotoxin mitigation effects of BG-MAX on nursery pigs – what did it find?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] A nursery pig’s gut and immune development is still not mature and that makes them particularly sensitive to mycotoxin threats.
In a recent publication in the journal Toxins, nursery pigs fed diets naturally contaminated with fumonisin and aflatoxin saw a reduction in body weight (BW) and average daily gain (ADG) and an increase in faecal score. Conversely, nursery pigs fed diets contaminated with mycotoxins but supplemented with BG-MAX had improved BW and ADG and reduced faecal score (less diarrhoea). Nursery pigs supplemented with BG-MAX also had improved gut barrier and higher villus height and a higher villus height:crypt ratio.
This protection of the gut barrier plays a critical role and ties back to our “Prevent, Protect, Resilience” mode of action of BG-MAX in blocking the mycotoxins from migrating from the gut to other organs and causing secondary challenges for the host.
In this study, BG-MAX prevented gut damage caused by fumonisin and aflatoxin and improved gut integrity and morphology. We hypothesise that, as a result, supplemented pigs had fewer mycotoxins and pathogens crossing the gut barrier, leading to improvement in feed digestion and assimilation and better health and growth.
[Feedinfo] With rising feed prices and the ever-present need to control costs on-farm, it can seem sensible to look for economies. Are mycotoxin mitigation strategies really critical, and if so, how can producers ensure they get the best return on investment?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] There are two critical challenges in determining mycotoxin threat and the ROI that mycotoxin mitigation strategies provide.
The first challenge is the uncertainty of the threat because of the variability in types and levels of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are not distributed uniformly in feed ingredients and can come from various sources.
The second is determining whether mycotoxin contaminated feed is impacting your overall productivity. Clinical mycotoxicosis can be identified and addressed, but there are no clear indicators of effects of low-level mycotoxin contamination in feed and it can lead to poor performance of your flock or herd. They play a role in setting the stage for secondary infections, for example by suppressing immunity or reducing gut integrity.
With rising feed prices, use of poor-quality ingredients to formulate rations is likely. Producers need the feed and energy from a diet to be utilised for growth and not diverted for secondary challenges. We recommend using a research-supported mycotoxin mitigation strategy proven to work against multiple mycotoxins to protect your flock or herd.
[Feedinfo] As your research programme progresses and technology develops, what can we expect to see from Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production going forward?
[Dr Sangita Jalukar] We are continuously developing unique solutions to address pain points faced by the animal ag industry such as health challenges, high feed costs or improving food safety. So, stay tuned!
Published in association with Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production