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Binders for Pigs

Deactivation of mycotoxins in swine feed

Most swine producers are familiar with the negative effects of mycotoxins in pigs and recognize the need for monitoring and mitigation as part of a complete mycotoxin risk management program.

While toxin binders can play a role, protecting your pigs requires additional detoxification strategies such as biotransformation and bioprotection. 

Definition of a toxin binder

Michele Muccio, Regional Product Manager Mycotoxins at BIOMIN, explains how mycotoxin binders work, how effective they are and how to achieve absolute protection.

In agriculture, a toxin binder or pig binder refers to a substance added to swine feed in minute quantities that is able to neutralize or immobilize harmful chemicals, mycotoxins or endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides) within animals’ gastrointestinal tracts, thus avoiding negative consequences.

Mycotoxin binders or can be considered a subset of the more general toxin binder category, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.


Binders bind contaminants by trapping them in a clay or other porous material in a process known as adsorption. The addition of adsorbent (binder) materials to pig feed is very common for the prevention of mycotoxicosis in pigs, especially aflatoxicosis.

A mycotoxin binder for pigs binds to a mycotoxin such as aflatoxin, which has a polar and flat chemical structure, through adsorption. Picture a sandwich. Aflatoxin is the meat, and the layers of the binding substance are the two slices of bread.

Once the mycotoxin enters the binder layers, the electric force generated by the atoms of both compounds tightens the bond. While a good binder will immobilize aflatoxins and even endotoxins, there are other mycotoxins that cannot be bound, because their structures are less flat and less polar than aflatoxins.

Trichothecenes such as deoxynivalenol, fumonisins and zearalenone require other mitigation strategies.

Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins
Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins. Adsorption is a suitable strategy for aflatoxins, ergot alkaloids and ochratoxins, but it is not an efficient method to counteract trichothecenes, fumonisins and zearalenone.

Binder materials

Certain materials are better at binding than others. Examples of binder materials include:

  • Silicates
  • Clays e.g. bentonite
  • Yeast
  • Charcoal

Evaluating binders

When choosing a mycotoxin binder, look for one that’s specific—which means it only binds mycotoxins. A non-specific binder will adsorb other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, reducing the nutritional value of your feed.

In an evaluation of 300 commercially-available products tested for their adsorption capacity using the European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) method, only high-quality bentonite was able to bind more than 90% of 4000 parts per billion of aflatoxin B1 at a pH of 5.

The EURL method is based on a multi-year research project between BIOMIN and the Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA Tulln), the world leader in research on fungi and mycotoxins. It identified five key characteristics required for an effective mycotoxin binder. Read more on the truth about mycotoxin binders and the criteria for choosing a good binder.

State-of-the-art mycotoxin deactivation

While binders represent the most common, conventional form of mycotoxin control, the limitations on what can be bound has led to newer, more effective methods to mitigate the effects of mycotoxins, such as bioprotection and biotransformation.


Biotransformation is the future of mycotoxin risk management. It works by transforming non-adsorbable mycotoxins into harmless substances without any side effects for livestock by altering the physical structure of mycotoxins.

BIOMIN has successfully pioneered the development and commercialization of biotransforming agents of various kinds, including:

  • A microogranism that produces enzymes which detoxifies tricothecenes
  • A yeast strain that neutralizes ochratoxin A
  • A purified enzyme that bio­transforms fumonisins into non-toxic metabolites
  • A purified enzyme that degrades zearalenone (ZEN) fast, specifically and irreversibly into non-toxic and non-estrogenic metabolites.

These innovations are available within our mycotoxin risk management solutions.



Bioprotection relies on a scientifically proven blend of carefully selected plant and algae extracts to boost animals’ liver and immune function in order to help animals cope with the negative effects of mycotoxins.


Best-in-class protection

A mycotoxin deactivator such as Mycofix® that combines all three strategies —adsorption, biotransformation and bioprotection— offers the most complete coverage against the negative effects of mycotoxins.



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