You are viewing United States

Mycotoxin Data Calls for Measures to Protect Livestock and Poultry

According to the latest report, 100% of livestock and poultry that consume feed containing corn byproducts will be exposed to potentially harmful mycotoxins.1 For those whose feed contains corn, that risk is still a strong 57%.1

Produced by molds, mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins that can cause a host of negative effects on livestock and poultry, impacting animal health and performance — and producers' bottom lines.

Approximately 300 to 400 different mycotoxins have been identified and reported to date. However, a select few mycotoxins cause the majority of concerns related to livestock and poultry health today: aflatoxins, fumonisins, ochratoxins, deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2/HT-2 toxin, and zearalenone.2

How do mycotoxins affect livestock and poultry?

Mycotoxins negatively impact gut health and can lead to:

  • Compromised immune function
  • Reduced performance
  • Oxidative stress
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)

6 Mycotoxins That Pose Health and Productivity Concerns2

  1. Aflatoxin: a major problem leading to chronic disease and potential mortality.
  2. Fumonisins: can cause significant disease in horses and swine.
  3. Ochratoxins: naturally occurring levels in feed can damage animals' kidneys.
  4. Deoxynivalenol (DON): more severely affects monogastric animals, especially swine, and may cause feed refusal, vomiting and anorexia.
  5. T-2 Toxin: impacts poultry by causing mouth lesions along with gizzard erosion and other gut issues.
  6. Zearalenone: can cause adverse effects associated with reproductive disorders and hyperestrogenism in breeding animals.

Read more about how mycotoxins affect livestock and poultry health and learn three ways to help minimize mycotoxin damage

Because of the dangers mycotoxins present, it's crucial for feed mills to have comprehensive mycotoxin testing programs for incoming grains to help identify potential risks before manufacturing feeds. Producers can also have their finished feed tested to help identify mycotoxin risks and find ways to mitigate them.

A look into recent years of mycotoxins in feed ingredients

Each year the Kemin Customer Laboratory Services team evaluates corn samples for mycotoxin levels.

The lab observed two major trends in stored and newly harvested corn ingredients:

  1. Mycotoxin co-contamination is the rule, not the exception,3 which increases the potential impact on livestock performance. Dive deeper into the negative synergistic effects of mycotoxins here.
  2. DON (aka deoxynivalenol or vomitoxin) and zearalenone were prevalent, and their levels were on the rise versus the prior year.3

Summary of mycotoxins found on corn samples (prior to 2020 harvest) submitted to Kemin Customer Laboratory Services.3


Read more about the 2021 Kemin Mold and Mycotoxin Report.

Looking forward: Mycotoxin outlook for current and future feed

As the Kemin Customer Laboratory Services team analyzed 2022 corn samples, it's evident that these trends will continue to be a concern for producers. Let's look at additional insights for 2023.

The June 2022 Mycotoxins Survey from Romer Labs®1 showed observations about 2021 corn and corn byproduct samples that indicate mycotoxin occurrence has increased compared to the previous year:

  • In the evaluation of 284 corn samples tested, the greatest shifts are in Type B Trichothecenes (B-Trich), like DON, (+11% points) and Zearalenone (+7% points).1
  • Out of the same 284 corn samples tested, mycotoxin occurrence is slightly higher than it was in 2020, and samples including more than one mycotoxin are up 8% points to 57%.1
  • Of the 75 corn byproduct samples tested (primarily DDGS and corn gluten feed), surveillance suggests that 100% of samples had more than one mycotoxin present.1
**Public data sourced from an external lab.

Potential impact of future mycotoxin contamination

In addition to the risks above, research continues to show that it's taking increasingly lower levels of mycotoxins to negatively impact livestock and poultry health — that means having a mycotoxin management plan is more important than ever.

A recent swine it podcast, Mycotoxins today - how much is too much? with Dr. Chris Parks and Dr. Don Giesting, covered this topic. 

“One of the paradigm shifts I’m seeing is thinking about Zearalenone as ‘no safe level.’ In the past, we used to think about a part per million (ppm) or more before we were concerned,” said Giesting, who leads the MicroNutrition innovation approach and execution at Cargill. “Some of the work that has been done, particularly in Europe, over the last half a dozen years or so, shows levels down in that ‘non-action level’ but with chronic exposure is leading to reductions in lifetime reproductive performance.”

“It changes how you look at things in the big picture,” said Parks, swine nutritionist for Cargill. “[We’re moving] from a spot-treatment situation where we used to treat feed right now to a long-term strategy including always having something in the feed to take care of the issues when they occur.”  


Help mitigate mycotoxin contamination in feed

Under ideal conditions, a strong intestinal barrier can help limit systemic mycotoxin effects. However, inflammation or oxidative stress caused by mycotoxins and their interactions can lead to leaky gut, which increases the risk of systemic challenges. To help reduce the effects of mycotoxins on the intestine, certain feed additives can be used to sequester mycotoxins. Sequestration — or binding — can prevent mycotoxins from reaching other organs and causing inflammation and other damage.

KALLSIL® from Kemin is an enhanced zeolite-based feed additive that provides broad-spectrum fungal metabolite control to improve feed quality. Published research has demonstrated mold inhibitors with anti-caking aids, including zeolite, can reduce the negative effects of mold and mycotoxin contamination on animal health and performance. By absorbing moisture from feed, KALLSIL also reduces caking, resulting in improved flow in feed and feed ingredients. KALLSIL is designed for use in swine, cattle, dairy, equine and poultry feeds.

Learn more about KALLSIL and explore resources at




1Data from Romer Labs website,, accessed on June 2, 2022.
2Cuhna, S.R., J.O. Fernandez and C. Santos Pereira. (2019, May.) Prevalent Mycotoxins in Animal Feed: Occurrence and Analytical Method. Toxins. 11(5) 290: Accessed August 29, 2022.
3Data from Kemin Customer Laboratory Services corn samples submitted as part of an annual monitoring program. (ARP21-212).

Romer Labs® is a registered trademark of Romer Labs, Inc.

Have a Question?

If you have a question about our products or services, or just want more information, fill out the form below and someone on our team will be in contact with you.

Let's Work Together! Contact Us: Contact Us