21 March 2022 – Mycotoxin mitigation in poultry production is a complex exercise due to the number of variables that need to be considered. Not only do some mycotoxins have different effects on birds compared to other livestock species, their presence in feed can also vary depending on the preharvest, storage and distribution conditions of the raw materials used in feed.
Further complicating the matter is evidence that mycotoxin binding, the most common strategy used to reduce birds’ exposure to mycotoxins, might not be as effective against certain types of mycotoxins.
Taking all of this into consideration, Selko, the feed additive brand of Trouw Nutrition has developed a battle strategy for mycotoxin risk management in poultry production. This approach goes beyond binding to deliver comprehensive protection not only against mycotoxins themselves, but also their impact on bird gut health and immunity. The company refers to it as their “3D Approach”, which Dr. Swamy Haladi, the Global Programme Manager for Mycotoxin Risk Management, Guanlin Wang, Global Product Manager for Mycotoxin Risk Management, and Pedro Caramona, Global Feed Safety Lead unpacked for us in a recent sit-down.
[Feedinfo] Mr. Caramona, to kick off, how does Selko’s Mycotoxin Risk Management Programme fit into the overall Feed Safety Programme Strategy?
[Pedro Caramona] Feed is an integral part of the food chain, and its safety has been recognised as a shared value and a shared responsibility. Several critical incidents have underlined the impact of feed safety on public and animal health, feed and food trade, and food security. For example, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Foot-and-Mouth Disease; dioxin, mycotoxin, E. coli O157:H7 contaminations; and the development of antimicrobial resistance.
To address these challenges, we at Selko developed a unique Feed Safety Programme, encompassing our scientific know-how, unique services, and innovative products, that can help our feed millers, integrators, and farmers across the world to produce safe feed. The four pillars of this programme include raw material quality, feed processing and quality, mycotoxin risk management and food- to-feed quality.In many countries adequate know-how and sufficient awareness are lacking to ensure feed safety among all operators along the whole value chain. Even where more knowledge is available and control systems are in place, new and unconventional feed ingredients are entering the production chain and with them new potential safety risks. Although mycotoxins are produced from moulds, mould management alone will not take care of mycotoxin threat to livestock and poultry. Hence, a specialised mycotoxin risk management is a crucial part of overall feed safety management.
[Feedinfo] Dr. Haladi, we know that climate change can affect mycotoxin prevalence. So how serious is the problem on the ground right now?
[Swamy Haladi] Climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. Higher temperatures are causing more intense storms and other weather extremes, which can influence mould growth. And this, in turn, can influence mycotoxin prevalence as they are by-products of mould growth. Unseasonal rains and drought have caused excess stress on plants leading to increased susceptibility to moulds, particularly of Aspergillus and Fusarium genus. Floods have also led to poor harvesting and drying of raw materials leading to increased mould growth, particularly of Aspergillus and Penicillium genus.
Dr. Swamy Haladi
[Feedinfo] So Mr Wang, have the poultry industry’s mitigation strategies kept pace with this changing mycotoxin landscape? How have things developed?
[Guanlin Wang] Mycotoxin mitigation strategies started with mycotoxin binders. Natural and synthetic clays are the most studied mycotoxin binders followed by yeast cell wall materials. As there are hundreds of such binders in the market, it is confusing for feed- and animal producers to know which one to choose. In vivo studies with these binders in addition to in vitro studies, to some extent, have helped to differentiate the products in the marketplace. Studies over the years have shown that not all mycotoxins can be bound by the binders to significantly reduce the negative effects of mycotoxins in livestock and poultry. As a result, Selko investigated mitigation strategies beyond binding.
Studies also have shown that microbes and enzymes can break down some of the mycotoxins in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Additionally, we focused on ways to strengthen the tight junction proteins between intestinal epithelial cells to limit mycotoxin transfer into the blood circulation. Developments in molecular genetics have helped us to understand the cellular changes in the various organs and organ systems when attacked by feed-borne mycotoxins. These developments allowed us to formulate innovative technologies to rejuvenate mycotoxin-affected organs. Gut health, immune organ health, and antioxidant systems are particularly studied in this regard. Future research should focus on other organs and organ systems.
[Feedinfo] How is Selko’s approach to mycotoxin risk management in poultry different to other animal nutrition players?
[Swamy Haladi] We believe that mycotoxin risk management should be an integrated approach. This means our priority is to prevent the mycotoxin occurrence in raw materials and feeds. This includes developing on-site tools to confirm mycotoxin contamination in raw materials and feeds, creating practical mycotoxin guidance values to define what actions to take per species, and continuously validating existing solutions via the most recent cutting-edge models, like we have done with our 3D Approach.
In our opinion a blanket approach to mycotoxin mitigation does not work. Mycotoxin impacts vary by the type and number of mycotoxins detected in feeds as well as the species of animal in question. To give an example, a binding approach may work well for aflatoxins (AF) but not for deoxynivalenol (DON). In the same way, pigs are very sensitive to zearalenone (ZEA), but poultry can tolerate high levels. A matrix approach, therefore, encompassing the above factors should be considered while developing mycotoxin mitigation strategies.
Extensive research in the last decade or so has revealed that both GIT and immune systems of poultry are quite sensitive to a number of mycotoxins that are commonly found in poultry feeds. DON, AF, ochratoxin A (OTA), T-2/HT2 toxin (T2HT2), and fumonisins (FB) are considered immunosuppressive and gut health disruptors. We developed technologies that can enhance both these systems, in addition to mycotoxin binding, and tested their efficacy under appropriate mycotoxin challenge.
[Feedinfo] How did this factor into your 3D Approach to mycotoxin mitigation? How does this strategy translate into a comprehensive method of risk management?
[Guanlin Wang] As mentioned before, mycotoxin binding alone is not enough for effective mycotoxin risk management in poultry. So, while it is an important pillar of our 3D approach to mitigation, we believe that attention also needs to be paid to GIT and health status.
Let me first talk about gut health. The gut is a key organ system that defines the feed efficiency of birds. Without optimal gut health, whatever the nutrients provided through feed will neither be digested nor absorbed. This can result not only in the poor egg production, body weight gain and feed efficiency, but also increased excretion of nutrients into the soil.
When we deep dived into the gut health disruption of mycotoxins, gut barrier function, orchestrated by intestinal tight junction proteins, is particularly compromised by most mycotoxins. Taking this cue, we started investigating an ingredient that could strengthen these tight junction proteins. Glucose biopolymers from the cell wall of a specific strain of yeast were found to be an excellent candidate for increasing tight junction protein gene expression. We then put these glucose biopolymers to work in an in vivo broiler trial with 6ppm DON and found that they increased the ratio of villi height to crypt depth, which is considered as a positive outcome for gut health.
[Swamy Haladi] The third pillar we chose was immune modulation in birds exposed to multiple mycotoxins. For decades it has been known that mycotoxins increase disease susceptibility of birds. Research across the globe has shown the increased incidences and severity of many viral, bacterial, and protozoan diseases when the feed is contaminated with mycotoxins. Studies have also shown the decrease in vaccination antibody titres against many viral and bacterial diseases in the presence of AF, OTA, and T-2 toxin. Such losses in the ability of birds to fight against pathogens can lead to increased morbidity and mortality, ultimately affecting the bottom line of poultry operations.
Macrophages, part of the innate immune system of poultry, are key immune cells for pathogen processing and antigen presentation. These cells play key roles in both humoral and cell-mediated immunity of birds. We developed an ingredient, again from a specific yeast cell wall, capable of modulating these macrophages for effective function.
So, to summarise, our strategy is to combine mycotoxin binding, gut health promotion, and immune modulation into one product, which is our TOXO-XL brand, that can address multiple mycotoxin challenges in poultry.
[Feedinfo] We’ve talked a lot about the “Big 6”, but what about emerging mycotoxins? Why should they be on the poultry industry’s radar, and how can TOXO-XL help here?
[Pedro Caramona] Emerging mycotoxins are those mycotoxins which are neither routinely analysed nor legislatively regulated, but the evidence of their incidence is rapidly increasing. Due to the advances in analytical technologies, such as LC-MS/MS, more mycotoxins can be analysed in commodities simultaneously and that is helping us in our understanding of emerging mycotoxins.
[Swamy Haladi] Just to represent different species of animals, we picked roquefortine C (RC), enniatin B (EB) and sterigmatocystin (STC) to study the ability of our technology to bind them at pH 3 and 6.5. TOXO-XL at 0.2% inclusion was able to bind 1000ppb each of RC, EB, and STC at 75%, 85% and 83%, respectively, at pH 6.5. At pH 3, the binding was even higher indicating the potential of effective management of emerging mycotoxins. As per our best knowledge, this is the first study that looked into the binding efficacy of commercial binders against these emerging mycotoxins. Moniliformin and fusaric acid are the other two emerging mycotoxins which are on our radar for our next mitigation research.
Published in association with Trouw Nutrition