What Are Mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are harmful secondary compounds produced by fungi that can be found in soil and plant matter commonly consumed by horses, including grains, forages, and feed. While the presence of fungi are not completely absent from these food sources, they will produce mycotoxins under ideal conditions such as specific moisture and oxygen levels present in the air, and at certain temperatures. Mycotoxicosis is more common among agricultural animals such as poultry, swine, and ruminants; however, its effects are only becoming more widely studied in horses. What is known is that these toxins can cause a wide range of health issues or even death.
What Effects Do Mycotoxins Have On Horses?
Because horses are hindgut fermenters, they absorb food more readily than ruminants, such as cattle and goats. Therefore, should a horse consume feed contaminated with mycotoxins, there is a greater likelihood of absorption into the body through the small intestine, and ultimately, the bloodstream. Mycotoxicosis can come in a variety of forms, from a variety of sources, each affecting a number of body systems. It should be noted that the effects of mycotoxins increase with repeated exposure, resulting in the following serious or life-threatening conditions including:
- Organ disease (particularly the liver and kidneys)
- Poor feeding efficiency and weight loss
- Neurological disease
- Respiratory disease
- Reduced growth
- Reduced fertility
Helping Your Horse Recover
Once feed has been contaminated with fungi that can produce mycotoxins, there is no way to remove it. Therefore, vigilance is the key to keeping your horse safe, regardless of age. Therefore, if you are not 100% sure that feed may have been contaminated with fungi, discard it, or have it tested by a lab. Hopefully, your horse never experiences the debilitating effects of mycotoxicosis. Should they, we can only hope their recovery is full, and lasting effects minimal or nonexistent.
Horse Guard Inc. offers nutritional supplements that can aid and speed up that process along with helping you manage the overall health of the horse. We'd recommend Mega Dose because it contains the complete vitamin, mineral, and probiotic package of our signature Horse Guard supplement, along with the complete hoof supplement of Hoof Guard into one easy 4 ounce a day serving. Another option would be Gut Guard, which is a powerful combination of live Probiotics & Prebiotics and Yeast that is 100% dedicated to gut health.
Whatever product you choose, we're here to help. Contact our expert staff with any specific questions or concerns you may have, or call us at (800) 553-4246 to learn more about how our products can help your horse stay on the road to recovery.