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Functional Additives
Thursday, May 26, 2016 4:04:36 PM
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Multiple mycotoxicosis and their phytogenic control in poultry


Dr. Srijit Tripathi, M.V.Sc., Ayurvet Limited


The term "mycotoxins" arose from the Greek words "mykes", meaning mould, and "toxicum" meaning poison. Mycotoxins refers to toxic secondary metabolites produced by the fungus during storage and handling of the feed or feed crops. They usually enter into the poultry production system through feed or bedding materials and destroy the production and profitability of the farm. Mycotoxins directly affects growth and production performance of the birds and therefore, controlling mycotoxins is crucial for economical production performance, product quality and food safety issues.

Multiple mycotoxins are a big problem affecting not only health of birds but also causing huge economic losses, Therefore preventive strategy is strongly required for protecting economic losses against mycotoxin menace. Formulating Mycotoxin-free feed is a big challenge for nutritionists because of ingredients contamination and mycotoxin levels ranging above safe level of 20 ppb. Survey reports contamination level > 30 ppb are significant to cause economic losses without showing any symptoms.

Mycotoxins have their detrimental effects mediated mainly through four important mechanisms:

  1. Reduction of feed Intake or refusal of feed
  2. Alteration in absorption and metabolism of nutrients
  3. Effects on the endocrine and exocrine systems
  4. Suppressed immunity

These effects, most of the times, does not lead to very specific symptoms, and therefore the diagnosis becomes tough as the similar symptoms are caused by many factors. But in case of higher toxicity level, the symptoms of mycotoxicosis are very obvious.

Varying conditions between the field and the storage have led to the production of a variety of fungal toxins by different fungal populations. A number of mycotoxins are known to the world but, the most important mycotoxins, based on their toxicity and occurrence, are listed as

  1. Aflatoxin
  2. Ochratoxin A
  3. Trichothecenes
  4. Zearalenone
  5. Fumonisin

Major losses associated with mycotoxicosis are:

  1. Poor growth
  2. Reduced egg production
  3. Reduced feed conversion
  4. Increased mortality
  5. Poor egg shell quality
  6. Reduced fertility


Warm and humid climatic conditions predispose the Poultry birds for Aflatoxicosis. In cold or more temperate regions, import of feedstuffs from warm and humid countries should be taken care of.

Among poultry birds, ducks are found to be most susceptible towards aflatoxins, followed by turkeys, broilers, laying hens and quail. Aflatoxins, in general, are hepatotoxic with fatty changes, causing degeneration of hepatocyte, necrosis, and altered liver function. Suppressed protein synthesis in liver results in reduced growth and egg production.

Aflatoxins interfere with vitamin D metabolism, as a result of which reduced bone strength and leg weakness can be seen in the birds. Aflatoxins also interfere with the lipid metabolism by reducing bile salt production.

Aflatoxins increases  fragility of capillaries, thereby reducing prothrombin levels and which is responsible for increasing the incidence of bruising in carcass and carcass downgrading.

In terms of food safety concerns, as these aflatoxins are transferred into the edible products and is having carcinogenic effects as well, many countries have set upper legal limits for aflatoxin in feed.

Clinical signs of aflatoxin toxicity:

  • Weight gain and anorexia
  • Egg production
  • FCR
  • Fertility and hatchability
  • Immunity


  • Mortality percentage
  • Specific visceral haemorrhage
  • Susceptibility to environmental and microbial stressors
  • Leg weakness and reduced bone strength
  • 'Pale bird syndrome'
  • Fatty and necrosed liver
  • Bile duct hyperplasia
  • Bruising and downgrading


Ochratoxin A is having the most significant importance among different types of Ochratoxins. Nephrotoxicity is the main effect of Ochratoxin A toxicity in all poultry species. Kidney becomes pale and grossly enlarged and the proximal convoluted tubules are affected to a greater extent. Liver may also become fatty due to Ochratoxin toxicity. In acute cases mortalities can occur due to acute renal failure. Ochratoxin A is approximately three times more toxic in young chicks than aflatoxins.

Clinical signs of Ochratoxin toxicity:


  • Feed intake
  • Growth and production
  • FCR
  • Egg shell quality
  • Embryo viability and hatchability
  • Feathering


  • Incidence of eggs with blood spots
  • Polyurea with large volumes of wet faeces
  • Pale and grossly enlarged kidney
  • Fatty liver
  •  Urate deposition in joints and abdominal cavity (at high exposure levels)
  • Depletion of lymphocytes and with it strong suppression of cellular immunity, thus enhanced susceptibility to viral infections.
  • Mortality due to acute renal failure

Trichothecenes (T2 toxin)

Trichothecenes are yet another very important group of mycotoxins produced on crops entering the feed through contaminated ingredients. These are tissue irritants with the major observations being oral lesions, dermatitis and intestinal irritation. They are also called “feed refusal toxin” as the most important physiological response to T2 toxins is loss of appetite. Poultry are highly sensitive to T2 toxin. They highly suppress the immune response having serious effects on bone marrow, spleen, lymphoid tissues, thymus and intestinal mucosa, where actively dividing cells are damaged.

Clinical signs of Trichothecenes toxicity:

Yellow caseous plaques occurring at,

  • Margin of the beak
  • Mucosa of the hard palate, and
  • The angle between the mouth and the tongue.


  • Feed intake
  • Weight gain and egg production
  • Shell quality
  • Fertility and hatchability of fertile eggs
  •  Immunity
  • Vaccination response


  • Tibia dyschondroplasia
  • Gizzard erosion
  • Necrosis of proventricular mucosa
  • Regression of ovaries
  • Liver weight

Zearalenone (ZEN)

Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium roseum infected grains are the prime source of Zearalenone. ZEN cause reproductive disorders because of its oestrogenic effects at higher concentrations. ZEN at higher concentration or presence of more than one mycotoxin will have impact in poultry especially Breeders and Layers. However, in general ZEN has limited toxicity to birds.

Zearalenone at more than 0.5 ppm (500 ppb) is detrimental to broiler breeders and layer that experienced a reduction in egg production. The birds have lowered serum progesterone, ascites, and cystic inflammation of the oviduct.

                  ZEN in ppb                  Impact to poultry

  1.           200 to 500 ppb         Depression in growth and production

  2.           > 500 ppb                Impacts in reproduction


The fumonisins constitute a group of mycotoxins produced mainly by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum, along with a few other Fusarium species. There are almost 28 different forms of fumonisins, designated as A, B, C and P etc. Fumonisin B1 is the most common and economically important form, followed by B2 and B3.

Clinical signs of fumonisin toxicity:

  • Reduced growth rate
  • Increased organ weights
  • Hepatocellular hyperplasia
  • Poor vaccination response
  • Increased liver sphinganine : sphingosine ratio

Phytogenic solution against multiple mycotoxicosis

Continuing its efforts of providing dependable, safe and environment friendly solutions for growth of Poultry Industry in India and abroad, Ayurvet Limited has endeavoured to develop a polyherbal preparation as Vilocym Z which is a rationale, potent and efficacious combination of herbs and activated minerals, to give a comprehensive solution for the benefit of Breeder farmers. Vilocym Z has got comprehensive power of herbs with active phytogenic ingredients like allicin, andrographolides, azadirachtin, Activated HSCAS, buffered organic acid and mannon-oligosachharides. These components significantly reduce mould growth, inhibit Mycotoxin biosynthesis in the feed, reduce toxin absorption from the GIT, bioneutralise the toxins and prevent harmful toxin metabolite formation in liver. In Breeder Bird apart from protection and mitigation of mycotoxins it also helps to reduce Fatty liver build-up during peak production.

Vilocym Z is not just a multiple mycotoxin binder & neutralizer but also an efficient Hepatoprotector, Immunomodulator and Growth promoter. Herbs present in Vilocym Z act synergistically to evoke a Mould inhibitory, Mycotoxin biosynthesis inhibitory, Mycotoxin Chemosorption and bio neutralization action.  Most of the mycotoxin binders or products like this, when they are added to feed and if there is no mycotoxin in the feed they do not produce any beneficial effect. Whereas, Vilocym Z works as powerful anti-oxidant and growth promoter even in case of no or ultra low mycotoxins in feed.

A number of trials have been done on Vilocym Z and different national and international papers have been published for the product which again validates the effectivity and efficacy of the product. Polyherbal solutions have immense potential to counteract the multiple mycotoxins menace along with the added advantages of ensuring food safety and avoiding chemicals from a poultry farm.


For more of the article, please click here.


Article made possible through the contribution of Dr. Srijit Tripathi, M.V.Sc. and Ayurvet Limited

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