Low Doses of Mycotoxin Mixtures below EU Regulatory Limits Can Negatively Affect the Performance of Broiler Chickens: A Longitudinal Study

Oluwatobi Kolawole, Abigail Graham, Caroline Donaldson, Bronagh Owens, Wilfred A Abia, Julie Meneely, Michael J Alcorn, Lisa Connolly, Christopher T Elliott

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Abstract

Several studies have reported a wide range of severe health effects as well as clinical signs, when livestock animals are exposed to high concentration of mycotoxins. However, little is known regarding health effects of mycotoxins at low levels. Thus, a long-term feeding trial (between May 2017 and December 2019) was used to evaluate the effect of low doses of mycotoxin mixtures on performance of broiler chickens fed a naturally contaminated diet. In total, 18 successive broiler performance trials were carried out during the study period, with approximately 2200 one-day-old Ross-308 chicks used for each trial. Feed samples given to birds were collected at the beginning of each trial and analysed for multi-mycotoxins using a validated LC-MS/MS method. Furthermore, parameters including feed intake, body weight and feed efficiency were recorded on a weekly basis. In total, 24 mycotoxins were detected in samples analysed with deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN), fumonisins (FBs), apicidin, enniatins (ENNs), emodin and beauvericin (BEV), the most prevalent mycotoxins. Furthermore, significantly higher levels (however below EU guidance values) of DON, ZEN, FBs, BEV, ENNs and diacetoxyscirpenol (DAS) were detected in 6 of the 18 performance trials. A strong positive relationship was observed between broilers feed efficiency and DON (R2 = 0.85), FBs (R2 = 0.53), DAS (R2 = 0.86), ZEN (R2 = 0.92), ENNs (R2 = 0.60) and BEV (R2 = 0.73). Moreover, a three-way interaction regression model revealed that mixtures of ZEN, DON and FBs (p = 0.01, R2 = 0.84) and ZEN, DON and DAS (p = 0.001, R2 = 0.91) had a statistically significant interaction effect on the birds' feed efficiency. As farm animals are often exposed to low doses of mycotoxin mixtures (especially fusarium mycotoxins), a cumulative risk assessment in terms of measuring and mitigating against the economic, welfare and health impacts is needed for this group of compounds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalToxins
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2020

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