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J Anim Sci. 1992 May;70(5):1615-27.

Mycotoxins and reproduction in domestic livestock.

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Department of Animal Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.


Molds are parasitic plants that are ubiquitous in livestock feedstuffs. Even though molds themselves reduce the quality of grains, their synthesis of chemical substances termed mycotoxins causes the greatest monetary loss to the animal industry. Five major mycotoxins that impair growth and reproductive efficiency in North America are aflatoxins, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol, ochratoxin, and ergot. Aflatoxins are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Consumption of grains containing aflatoxins by swine affects reproduction indirectly by reducing feed intake and growth. In swine, aflatoxins impair liver and kidney function, delay blood clotting, increase susceptibility to bruising, and interfere with cellular humoral immune systems. Ruminants are comparatively resistant to aflatoxicosis, but presence of aflatoxins in milk of dairy cows is closely monitored for human safety. Depending on environmental conditions, Fusarium roseum can produce either zearalenone or deoxynivalenol. Days 7 to 10 postmating seem to be a critical period of gestation for zearalenone to exert its detrimental actions on early embryonic development. Presence of deoxynivalenol in swine feedstuffs decreases feed intake, causes feed refusal, and induces occasional vomiting. Several species of Penicillium and Aspergillus produce ochratoxin, a mycotoxin that causes necrosis of kidney tissue. Ergot alkaloids produced by Claviceps purpurea on wheat can cause reproductive problems and are associated with lactational failure in swine. Various methods have been developed to remove mycotoxins from infected feedstuffs. Chemical analyses in laboratories as well as diagnostic kits suitable for use at the elevator or farm can be used successfully to identify which mycotoxins are present in suspect feedstuffs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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