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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Could you give me some information concerning vomitoxin?


QUESTION:
I am writing to you at the request of my father who also studied here way back. He works as a consultant nutritionist in Ireland, and there has recently been a rise in the interest in the Fusarium mold vomitoxin and it's effects on animal health. Grain only makes up a small proportion of the diet of the average Irish dairy cow. However, certain animal feed manufacturers are now promoting the use of agents to reduce or wipe out vomitoxins in the feeds. Could you give me some indication of the level which is required (a) in the grain, and (b) in the total diet to cause illness or poor performance.

ANSWER:

The biggest problem with DON (deoxynivalenol, a.k.a vomitoxin) is that it depresses feed intake. In pigs, 10ppm DON can put hogs off their feed. This is actually a good thing, because very often, when DON is present, so are even worse trichothene toxicants that can really screw an animal up. less than 1ppm of T-2 (one of the other nasty trichothenes) can cause hemorrhages and 0.2mg/kg BW can put a dairy cow off feed and give it ulcers! There are probably a lot of similar toxins that we have not yet identified and DON, one that we know, serves as an indicator that molding has occurred and other toxins may be present.