Would you like to find out how mycotoxins could affect negatively poultry production?

Mycotoxin contamination in raw materials, such as cereals or feed, is a worldwide challenge that pose a constant threat in poultry production. 

The degree of affectation depends on the type and concentration of mycotoxins in the diet, the age of the animal and other nutritional factors. In this context, is important to highlight multi-contamination of raw materials and/or feed, because, the presence of several mycotoxins can have an additive or synergistic effect on the animal.

 The most common negative effects that have been described of different mycotoxins in poultry are detailed below (Gholampour Azizi et al., 2014; Santin, 2014; Riahi et al., 2021; Wu et al., 2021; Agbool, 2022). 


Aflatoxins are characterized by altering liver and kidney functions and they are also immunosuppressive. Consequently, the ingestion of aflatoxins results in worsening growth performance rate. In laying hens, reduces laying rate and eggshell quality. In addition, a decrease in vaccination efficacy and an increase in mortality have been observed. 

T2 mycotoxin

Poultry tend to be more sensitive to trichothecenes, such as T2, than other animals such as ruminants. Specifically, toxic effects of T2 mycotoxin can be classified as genotoxic and cytotoxic. This mycotoxin can affect the immune system, the cells from the digestive system and liver, the nervous system and the skin. That results in oral and skin lesions. In addition, it can reduce productive yields (growth and laying).  


DON, another mycotoxin in the trichothecenes group. It stands out for its cytotoxic effect by interfering in protein synthesis and damaging DNA after inducing oxidative stress. In addition, it is observed that DON is immunosuppressive and immunomodulator depending on the concentration ingested. 

At the same time, it alters functions of the intestinal tract by compromising permeability and absorption surface. Furthermore, a reduction in feed intake, growth, as well as, in the laying rate and egg quality have been described.  


The target organ of ochratoxin is the kidney, although it is also hepatotoxic and immunosuppressive. In general, it has been observed that birds are less sensitive to this mycotoxin than other species, such as swine, because they have a high excretion capacity. 

However, renal alterations and reductions in feed intake and growth, as well as, laying rate and eggshell quality have been reported. An increase in early mortality has also been observed. 


Fumonisins, among which fumonisin B1 stands out, are characterized by the lesions they produce in the liver. In addition, after a long period of ingestion of feed contaminated with low doses of fumonisins, the animals reduce their consumption and growth. In addition, it turns out to be an immunosuppressive mycotoxin that can alter nerve functions. In this context, fumonisin intoxication has also been associated with increased mortality in poultry. 


In general, birds are less affected by zearalenone in comparison with other monogastric, such as swine. This difference is due to different factors among which low absorption of this mycotoxin and quick elimination of these metabolites produced in the liver of the poultry. Focusing on the effects of zearalenone, mainly they are located in the reproductive tract, as it has a chemical structure similar to estrogen. 

On the one hand, reduction in the laying rate and egg size have been observed as well as an increase in the embryonic mortality. On the other hand, in male, a lower percentage of fertilization has been observed. 

However, these cases are reported after the ingestion of high doses of zearalenone. In this scenario, it is necessary to highlight the role of zearalenone in multi-contamination cases since it induces a worsening of the negative effects produced by other mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin B1 or DON, on productive yields, the immune system, the liver and the gut barrier. 

In conclusions, mycotoxins in poultry production are a silent problem that must be approach to reduce their negatives effects on poultry health.