Molds and Mycotoxins - Mycotoxin Levels and Interpretation

  • Fusarium fungus produces Deoxynivalenol (DON or vomitoxin), Zearalenone, T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, Fumonisin and Nivalenol.
  • Note that results may be expressed in a number of different ways. Therefore remember: ppm = mg/kg = ug/g
  • Always check the dry matter basis on which the results are given - many cases this is as-fed. Correct for moisture level; divide by the decimal dry matter. eg. 1 ppm on 30% dry matter basis is 1 / 0.3 = 3.3 ppm DM.
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada guidelines for DON (Vomitoxin) in animal feeds are:
    • pigs, calves, lambs, lactating cows and lactating ewes, 1 ppm in the diet,
    • adult cattle, adult sheep and poultry, 5 ppm in the diet.
  • United States FDA guidelines for DON (Vomitoxin) in feeds in the US are:
    • 10 ppm in grains and by-products fed to chickens, ruminating beef and feedlot cattle older than 4 months. Maximum ingredient level 50% of total ration. (ie. 5 ppm in the final ration).
    • 5 ppm in ingredients for swine with a maximum inclusion rate of 20% of total ration. (ie. 1 ppm in the final ration).
    • 5 ppm in ingredients for all other animals with a maximum inclusion of 40% of the ration. (ie. 2 ppm in the final ration).
  • Pennsylvania State University suggested guidelines on mycotoxin levels in feeds are (Adapted from Penn State)

    Total Ration (on a Dry Matter basis)

    Concern Level1
    Potentially Harmful
    Cattle (ppm) Swine (ppm)
    2.5 to 6.0
    0.6 to 1.0
    3.9 to 7.0
    0.6 to 3.9
    0.7 to 1.5
    0.7 to 1.5
    1.5 to 3.0
    1.5 to 3.0
  • Notes on the Penn State University table:
    • 1Concern level: Indicates favourable conditions for mycotoxin production. May require further testing, especially if moderate symptoms are present. Limit the amount of suspect feed fed if performance and/or health symptoms persist. Discontinue use if severe production decreases occur and/or acute clinical symptoms appear.
    • Potentially Harmful: Mycotoxins at these levels suggest toxin involvement in depressed performance and/or acute clinical symptoms. Discontinue feeding, at least temporarily, sample and test.

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