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Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain moulds. Mycotoxins can be found in grass, hay and commercial feeds. Mycotoxins become more prevalent in periods of high rainfall. They also can be found more readily on certain grasses such as Paspalum, Bermuda Grass, Couch and Ryegrass because of their seed heads.
Mycotoxin poisoning in horses can show up through various symptoms. Horses are particularly susceptible to mycotoxin exposure due to their dietary habits and the potential contamination of their feed. Here are some indicators of mycotoxin poisoning in horses:
Digestive issues: Horses affected by mycotoxins may exhibit signs of gastrointestinal distress, including colic (abdominal pain), diarrhoea, reduced appetite, and weight loss.
Neurological abnormalities: Mycotoxins can have neurotoxic effects on horses, leading to symptoms such as ataxia (loss of coordination), muscle tremors, stumbling, weakness, and abnormal behaviour.
Respiratory problems: In Inhalation of mycotoxin-contaminated particles or ingestion of mouldy bedding can cause respiratory issues in horses, including coughing, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing.
Skin and coat problems: Horses may develop skin irritations, hives, hair loss, or a dull, unhealthy coat as a result of mycotoxin exposure.
Lameness and hoof-related issues: Certain mycotoxins can affect the hooves, leading to lameness, hoof wall defects, hoof abscesses, or compromised hoof growth.
Reproductive complications: Mycotoxin poisoning can impact the reproductive health of horses, resulting in fertility issues, irregular estrous cycles, early embryonic death, or stillbirths.
Reduced performance: Horses exposed to mycotoxins may experience a decline in performance, lack of energy, reduced endurance, or decreased athletic ability.
Organ damage: Some mycotoxins can target specific organs in horses, such as the liver and kidneys, leading to organ damage, abnormal blood profiles, and impaired function.
Mycotoxin poisoning may also cause the following without any obvious signs:
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