There is a very high chance that hidden within your horse’s pasture, hay, and hard feed are millions of tiny mycotoxins that, once inside your horse’s system, will cause you and your horse trouble. However, there is an easy solution to ensure those mycotoxins pass through your horse’s system without causing harm.
Equine nutritionist for Hygain, Holly Mills, says it can be very common and easy for horses to ingest mycotoxins. “Mycotoxins are produced by fungus that can pretty much grow on any kind of feedstock that horses eat,” Holly explains. “It could be on pasture, it could be in hay, it could be on the grains or in the bagged feeds.”
THIS FEELS TOXIC
As the name suggests, mycotoxins are definitely not something that you want sitting inside your horse’s body because the outcomes can be potentially serious. “Mycotoxins enter the horse’s system by being ingested and then they can enter the bloodstream, usually through the hindgut and through the gut wall,” continues Holly. “One symptom that can be common and quite severe is ‘ryegrass staggers’, which is actually caused by mycotoxins. Sometimes it can be more subtle, such as aggressive behaviour or irritability, hot fizzy behaviour. Even ulcer-like symptoms, if they’re feeling girthy. It could even show up as photosensitivity. So, if you’ve had a horse that’s never been sunburnt before and it’s getting sunburnt all of a sudden, that’s potentially something you could look at. And death is a possibility.
“There’s a massive list of different types of mycotoxins and the different types of fungal moulds, but they do each affect the horse differently. Different areas or climates at certain times of the year will have different mycotoxins in abundance. It’s important to note that different horses are more susceptible than others, and at the moment we don’t particularly know why that might be. Potentially, that horse might have another issue going on or they just are more susceptible. Also, there could be 10 horses in the paddock and only one of them is affected, so don’t just rule out the idea of mycotoxins if not all the horses are showing the same signs.”