5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

We summarize the impact of mycotoxin contamination on the productivity of fattening pigs in 5 relevant data

Nowadays, the use of mycotoxins binders in sow feed is a common practice in the farms, because the negative effects of mycotoxins are very visible, in the form of alterations of the reproductive cycle and defects in the quality and quantity of piglets.

In fattening pigs, the situation is different. Unless mycotoxin levels are very high, there are not are clear signs of mycotoxicosis like swelling of vulva in gilts or vomiting. Often, the main consequence of mycotoxin contamination in fattening pigs feed is the loss of productivity, that may be mistakenly attributed to other causes, while specific lesions are only found sporadically. Therefore, it is not easy to fully understand the benefits of routinely using mycotoxins binders and often binders are seen as an unnecessary cost that reduces the already tight profit margins of pig feed manufacturers.

For this reason, the aim of this blog is to summarize in 5 numbers the impact of mycotoxins contamination on performance of fattening pigs.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

It is estimated that 40% of the world cereal production is contaminated by one or more mycotoxins (Pittet, 1998), so there is a reasonable possibility that the feed used at some point in your farm is contaminated.

Contrary to what is believed, cereals cultivated in cool climates, such as Northern Europe, North China or Canada, are not free from mycotoxins. They might contain less aflatoxins (aflatoxins are typical mycotoxins of warm climates) but are contaminated with deoxynivalenol (DON, vomitoxin), zearalenone and T-2 toxin. These three mycotoxins are highly toxic for fattening pigs.

It is also a myth that mycotoxicosis only happens during spring and summer. Often conditions of temperature and humidity during the storage of grain are not optimal and the amount of mycotoxin-producing molds in the raw materials can increase up to 6 folds during storage time (Home-Grown Cereals Authority, London, 2000). The inclusion of these contaminated raw materials will cause problems all year round.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

Trichothecenes interfere with several processes of feed digestion and absorption.

Feed contamination with 1 ppm of DON increases the days required to reach market weight by 5.2. The value of 1 ppm is just above the level recommended by the European Food Safety Authority for pig feed, which is 0.9 ppm, and below the US FDA recommendation, which is 2 ppm.  A contamination with 5 ppm of DON increases the days to market by 14.1 (House, 2003).

In 2009, USA crops were severely affected by DON contamination. Patience, 2011, in a trial, demonstrated that DON reduced the benefit per pig up to 20.68 USD.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

Several authors (Grosjean, 2004; Smith et al, 2005; Pinton et al, 2005; Guillou et al, 2007) reported depression of feed intake in fattening pigs fed with DON-contaminated feeds:

  • In case of high mycotoxin contamination (DON above 4 ppm), there is an immediate reduction of feed intake by 25 to 30%.
  • If mycotoxin contamination is medium (DON 1 ppm-3 ppm) , there is not a immediate drop,  but feed consumption levels fall gradually during 2 or 3 weeks until 10-20% lower than normal. After 8 to 10 weeks being fed with mycotoxin-contaminated  diets, animals begin to compensate and may return to almost normal intake.
  • Above 10 ppm DON, there is complete feed refusal.

Mycotoxin contamination does not affect the number of visits to feeder per day but it reduces the amount of feed eaten and the duration the visit.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

Most mycotoxins, regardless of their chemical structure or their mechanism of action, show a clear impact on weight gain and FCR. By impairing feed intake, nutrient absorption, immunity or by specific toxicity on target organs such as kidney or liver, growth of the animals is delayed.

There are many articles and field experiences on the impact of mycotoxins on growth (Friend et al, 1986; Jeresiunas et al, 2000; Cheng et al, 2006; Battacone et al, 2007; Patience, 2011; among many others).  Depending on the type of mycotoxins and the level of contamination, such trials report lower weight gain by 5 to 20%, averaging a reduction of 11.9%. The feed conversion ratio is also affected, being an average of 3% worse.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

Mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, ochratoxin, patulin or fumonisins damage the immune system.

Recently, fumonisins are in the focus of attention because they predispose pigs to infection:

  • Oswald et al, 2003, demonstrated that with a contamination as low as 5 ppm of fumonisin B1 (the safety level recommended by the European Food Safety Authority for pig feed is 5 ppm; US FDA recommends 10 ppm) the risk of digestive colonization by pathogenic E.coli doubles.  In animals exposed to fumonisin, it was easier for E.coli to reach internal organs such as lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys
  • Bouhet and Oswald, 2005 found that Fumonisins make intestinal epithelium more permeable and as a consequence, the entry of pathogens into the body is easier.
  • Halloy et al., 2005 demonstrated that fumonisin predisposes the animals to the lung infection by Pasteurella multocida.


Although there are mycotoxins that produce clear and specific lesions organs and tissues, such as zearalenone or ochratoxin, in most cases the main effect of contamination is a loss of productivity. It is not always easy to associate this deterioration of the productive parameters or a nonspecific weakening of animals with mycotoxin contamination.

To further complicate the situation, often in the laboratory we find mycotoxins at a lower level than the official recommendations but, due to synergy effects between them, we encounter mycotoxicosis or productivity losses in the farm.

It seems obvious that the only way to avoid the negative effects of mycotoxins and to unfold the full productive potential of fattening is the routine inclusion in feed of highly effective mycotoxins binders, such PlusBind® and PlusBind Bio®.


  • Our technical team can help you to build a HACCP program to avoid contaminated feedstuff from entering your feed production system.
  • Our lab experts can help you to analyze the mycotoxins risk in your feed and to interpret the results.
  • We have excellent mycotoxins binders, with a high binding capacity and a low dose per ton, with proven positive experiences in many pig farms.

PlusBind® mycotoxin binder, with their expanding structure and their high binding efficiency per gram of product, are the ideal solution to maintain health and productivity in despite of defective cereal conditions.

PlusBind Bio® it’s a highly effective mycotoxins binder with prebiotic effect, which will restore balance of digestive flora and promote the growth of Lactobacillus species. Lactobacillus species have been proven to exert a detoxifying activity on mycotoxins.

5 numbers that will make you consider adding binders to fattening pigs feed

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Posted in: Mycotoxins, PigletPlus

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