[INTERVIEW] BIOMIN Gains Further Insight into Poultry Producers' Mycotoxin Challenges

On the sidelines of the recent IPPE 2017, held in Atlanta, Georgia, Feedinfo News Service was able to talk to Raj Murugesan, Technical & Marketing Director of BIOMIN America, and Ursula Hofstetter, Head of Global Product Management Mycotoxins at BIOMIN.

[Feedinfo News Service] BIOMIN is gaining a better understanding of the toxicity of emerging mycotoxins in vitro in order to identify which may cause problems in livestock. What are your latest findings?

Ursula Hofstetter, Head of Global Product Management Mycotoxins, BIOMIN[Ursula Hofstetter] We conduct the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey each year since 2004 using advanced multi-mycotoxin methods, such as LC-MS/MS based Spectrum 380® which detects more than 380 mycotoxins and metabolites. Crops contain many more different mycotoxins and other secondary fungal metabolites than the well-known (regulated) mycotoxins: aflatoxin B1, deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin, zearalenone, fumonisin B1, and ochratoxin. The development of analytical methods to detect emerging (unregulated) mycotoxins is more advanced than the knowledge of their toxicity. There’s reason to suspect that some of the emerging mycotoxins play some kind of role in livestock, since in vivo trials using naturally contaminated feed consistently show greater negative effect on the animals than those using artificially contaminated feed. This indicates that these other mycotoxins add to the overall toxicity. The initial focus of the project is to screen these less understood but common metabolites for their toxic effects. According to the progress made so far, the emerging mycotoxins that merit further scrutiny include: moniliformin (for which an EFSA scientific opinion is expected), sterigmatocystin (undergoing a safety assessment by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives), fusaproliferin, fusaric acid, alternariol and tenuazonic acid (which is thought to interfere with protein synthesis in poultry).

[Feedinfo News Service] Which mycotoxins affect poultry the most?

[Ursula Hofstetter] Mycotoxins are extremely common in the main crops. Of the worldwide samples of corn, wheat and soy tested for three or more mycotoxins, 93% were positive for at least one toxin, though several are typically present at a time. In light of the survey results, the most common mycotoxin threats to poultry worldwide are 1) deoxynivalenol, 2) zearalenone, 3) fumonisins, 4) T-2 toxin 5) aflatoxin and 6) ochratoxin A. No single figure can fully capture the costs that mycotoxins impose on the poultry industry, given the hundreds of mycotoxins that occur in various combinations, different species, genetics, production systems, age, health status, diet, etc. We often describe the impacts of mycotoxins on livestock using an iceberg metaphor. The visible tip of the iceberg in this case would be clinical mycotoxicoses. The larger, submerged component consists of impaired performance in terms of growth or laying, compromised gut integrity, greater susceptibility to disease, etc. Commonly cited figures for the latter include coccidiosis, which is estimated to cost the poultry industry USD 3 billion annually. Necrotic enteritis is likely responsible for losses of USD 5-6 billion worldwide each year.

[Feedinfo News Service] What kind of impacts are you seeing on poultry gut health, gut integrity and the birds' susceptibility to necrotic enteritis and coccidiosis?

[Ursula Hofstetter] In recent years several studies have been carried out to investigate the impact of mycotoxins on poultry gut health. Today we have proof that deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin, fumonisin and aflatoxins negatively influence nutrient absorption, proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells, the barrier function of the intestinal epithelia and the production of immunoglobulins and cytokines. This has an impact on nutrient digestion and on health of the animals since compromised gut integrity equals open doors for pathogens. In vivo experiments have shown that necrotic enteritis is exacerbated in presence of either deoxynivalenol or fumonisins. The combination of deoxynivalenol and fumonisin has been shown to worsen the severity of coccidiosis.

[Feedinfo News Service] BIOMIN previously told us that U.S. farmer awareness and interest in mycotoxin contamination tend to be lower than elsewhere because it can happen that in the U.S. a crop goes from the field into animals in just two weeks in some cases, making mycotoxins a more sporadic problem for farmers. How does BIOMIN plan to overcome this challenge?

Raj Murugesan, Technical & Marketing Director, BIOMIN America[Raj Murugesan] We have instituted a two-pronged approach here in North America to develop data on the prevalence of mycotoxins based on their occurrence and the type of ingredient. Mycotoxins could be occurring pre-harvest (fumonisins and trichothecenes such as deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin, and zearalenone) and post-harvest during storage (most aflatoxins and ochratoxins). We, at BIOMIN America, have been closely monitoring the corn harvest for the past decade. Results of this survey on 2016 US corn and the trend over the last 5 years were presented for the first time at IPSF in Atlanta. We also assess the occurrence of mycotoxins in DDGS and wheat midds, as they are the primary by-product ingredients used in poultry and swine feeds in North America. Finally, our ongoing survey program on major grasses used as ruminant feeds including Bermuda, rye, etc., is being executed to help dairy and beef cattle producers. Finally, with the implementation of Biomin® PROcheck, we’ve been working directly with major livestock producers to look at the quality of their feed ingredients to ensure those are covered as well.

[Feedinfo News Service] How familiar is the North American market with the notion of mycotoxin biotransformation?

[Ursula Hofstetter] It’s rather difficult to say. The science of biotransformation –structurally altering mycotoxins so that they become non-toxic– has been established over the past 20 years. One particularity of the North American regulatory system is that claims of mycotoxin deactivation are basically not permitted. This contrasts with other jurisdictions such as the European Union, where an official process exists to authorize feed additives shown to be safe and effective in countering mycotoxins in livestock. Coincidentally, BIOMIN has 3 such authorizations for products sold in the EU—the only company in the world to do so.

[Feedinfo News Service] The new BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey will be published in the coming weeks. But what kind of information did you disclose to your customers at IPPE 2017?

[Raj Murugesan] Generally, the livestock industry appreciates that the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey is the longest-running, most comprehensive source for mycotoxin occurrence anywhere. We’ve been actively participating in the scientific forum (IPSF) for many years on a number of topics related to mycotoxin risk management and gut performance. This year, we delved into the occurrence of masked and emerging mycotoxins in terms of new information. The former are tricky because they are not easily detected by conventional methods but can be transformed in the gastrointestinal tract into regulated mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol and zearalenone. The latter are typically not subject to regulation or guidelines, and their effects in animals are less well understood.

[Feedinfo News Service] In which ways can BIOMIN help poultry producers deal with mycotoxin contamination as soon as the first signs appear?

[Ursula Hofstetter] We work closely with clients across the globe to implement robust mycotoxin risk management. The first step is ensuring that an effective monitoring program is in place. Again, the iceberg analogy comes into play. Most of the time, clients will contact us because they see an unspecified drop in performance or a related issue that they cannot fully explain. We can bring to bear the most advanced mycotoxin detection tools commercially available –Spectrum® 380– in order to assess the quality of feed ingredients. In the United States, Spectrum® 380 is a component of our Biomin® PROcheck, a 5-step service program designed to counteract naturally-occurring metabolites in feed ingredients. Of course, many of our clients use our mycotoxin risk management tools, including feed additives, on a regular basis in order to reduce the probability of encountering any issues in the first place.

[Feedinfo News Service] How successful has the introduction of Biomin® PROcheck been in the U.S.?

[Raj Murugesan] We’ve gained real traction since the launch of Biomin® PROcheck at the 2016 World Pork Expo. Livestock producers appreciate the tailored program that includes on-farm consultancy as well as training. For BIOMIN, it’s about building long-term customer relationships that produce successful outcomes. Our technical expert team, consisting of veterinarians and nutritionists by species, work closely with the producers’ technical teams in identifying, assessing, and developing customized solutions to overcome mycotoxin challenges according to different phases of production (starter, grower, and finisher), and types of production (breeders, sows, cows, etc.). Leveraging the momentum we’ve gained with Biomin® PROcheck around mycotoxin risk management, we have launched Biomin® GUTcheck program at IPPE. Both services gain significance in the context of the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).

[Feedinfo News Service] Which other products did BIOMIN promote at IPPE?

[Raj Murugesan] In addition to the Biomin® PROcheck and Biomin® GUTcheck services, we’ve introduced Biotronic® Top3, an acid-based product for poultry, along with post pelleting and hatchery applications for PoultryStar®, our poultry specific probiotic product, which was awarded a silver medal innovation award by DLG, the German Agricultural Society at EuroTier 2016 in Hannover, Germany. This expansion of our products and services for the poultry sector is further supported by key personnel additions in order to boost our technical consulting efforts.

This interview was first published on www.feedinfo.com.