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Analysis of Canadian and Irish forage, oats and commercially available equine concentrate feed for pathogenic fungi and mycotoxins

Paper published on 01-04-2007

Thomas Buckley*, Alan Creighton and Ursula Fogarty


Respiratory infections, recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) and exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH) are major causes of poor performance in horses. Fungi and mycotoxins are now recognised as a major cause of these conditions. The most notable fungi are Aspergillus and Fusarium. Fungal spores can originate from forage, bedding and feed and, in turn, these fungal spores can produce a series of mycotoxins as secondary metabolites.

This study set out to ascertain the degree of fungal and mycotoxin contamination in feed and fodder used in Irish racing yards over a one-year period. Weather conditions in forage producing areas were sampled by Met Eireann and the Canadian Meteorological Service.

50% of Irish hay, 37% of haylage and 13% of Canadian hay contained pathogenic fungi. Of the mycotoxins, T2 and Zearalenone were most prominent. Twenty-one per cent of Irish hay and 16% of pelleted feed contained Zearalenone. Forty per cent of oats and 54% of pelleted feed contained T2 toxins.

Keywords: Aspergillus; mycotoxins; RAO; EIPH

If you wish to read the rest of the paper please follow this link to the Irish Veterinary Journal link