Many poultry and livestock producers worldwide are making serious efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) in their farms. Going AGP-free is a complex process that includes adjustments in farm management, biosafety and feed formulation, among others. The ultimate target of these changes is to improve and maintain gut health, which is the basis of AGP replacement.
In their integrated approach to manage gut health, many producers forget to take in account the challenges by mycotoxins. The gastrointestinal tract is the first and main system affected by the toxicity of mycotoxins. When antibiotics are removed, the toxicity by mycotoxins becomes more important and can make antibiotic-free production difficult or impossible.
MYCOTOXINS ARE TOXIC ON THE THREE FEATURES OF A HEALTHY GUT
1.Toxicity on the gastrointestinal tissues
- Trichothecenes (mainly T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, DAS and DON) in chicken and swine, as well as aflatoxins in swine, produce caustic effects on the surfaces of the digestive system. In ruminants, deoxynivalenol (DON) causes gastroenteritis, intestinal hemorrhages and bloody diarrhea.
- Deoxynivalenol and fumonisins reduce the height of the villi and the depth of the crypts in the small intestine of chicken and swine. Such changes reduce the surface available to absorb nutrients.
- In poultry and swine, mycotoxins, especially aflatoxins, ochratoxin A and DON, reduce the activity of digestive enzymes and the secretion of bile, which ultimately results in an increase of non-digested feed in the lumen of the intestine, that acts as a substrate for the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
- Mycotoxins (DON, T-2 toxin, fumonisins and zearalenone are toxic on the intestinal epithelial cells and on tight junctions, disrupting the intestinal barrier (learn more about the importance of gut barrier here).
- Mucins form a gel-like mucus that covers the gastrointestinal tract, protecting it from irritations. They also are a key part of the gut barrier. DON reduces the secretion of mucins while fumonisins produce a hypersecretion. The hypersecretion of mucin can be easily seen as an orange mucus in the surface of intestine of necropsied chicken or in their feces. Continuous hypersecretion of mucins results in the devastation of the mucus barrier and also in the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts.
2.Toxicity on the gut flora
- In swine, fumonisins promote the colonization by pathogenic Escherichia coli in the small and large intestine.
- In poultry, the presence of Fusarium mycotoxins (trichothecenes, zearalenone and fumonisins) make the animals more susceptible to digestive infections by coccidia, E.coli and Salmonella sp.
- In poultry, the continued exposure to fumonisins during two weeks or morereduces the diversity of the ileal microbiota.
- In poultry and swine, the exposure to fumonisins, aflatoxins and ochratoxins diminishes the count of Lactobacillus species in the small intestine.
- In ruminants, roquefortin C and mycophenolic acid reduce the count of beneficial species.
3.Toxicity on the local digestive immunity
Whenever there is a disfunction of the local digestive immunity, it is easier for pathogenic microorganisms such as Clostridium perfringens to proliferate. On the other hand, the effectiveness of vaccines worsens.
In poultry and swine, there are four main groups of mycotoxins that impair the digestive immune system:
- Aflatoxins and ochratoxins decrease the production of antibodies (immunoglobulins A and M)
- Fumonisins and trichothecenes reduce the production of interleukins and interferon (small proteins that regulate the immune responses).
Gut health is key for overall performance of the animals and to replace antibiotic growth promoters. It can be impaired by several factors and one of these factors, often overlooked, is the presence of mycotoxins in the feed.
Whenever antibiotics are removed, the toxicity of mycotoxins becomes more apparent and their negative effects on the gastrointestinal tissues, the gut flora and the local digestive immunity lead to the failure of antibiotic-free programs.
Nowadays there is no technology which can fully prevent the mycotoxin contamination in feedstuffs. It is necessary to set up a HACCP program to control mycotoxin contamination and to perform regular mycotoxin determinations of feeds and raw materials. We at PlusVet Animal Health offer laboratory services that can help you.
The routine use of suitable mycotoxin binder, with ability to bind all kinds of mycotoxins, is key to keep gut health.
PRODUCTS OF CHOICE
PlusBind© is a mixture of carefully selected silicates intended for the prevention of diseases and productivity losses related to the presence of all types of mycotoxins. It is indicated in poultry, pigs, aquaculture and ruminants.
The silicates present in PlusBind© have a highly expandable molecular structure. This characteristic gives the product a wide surface available for the adsorption of mycotoxins and therefore allows a high effectiveness at lower doses (0.5-1 kg per ton of feed).
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