Aflatoxins in Horse Feed: What You Should Know

What are aflatoxins, how do they end up in livestock feed, and are they dangerous to horses? Our equine nutritionist explains.

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aflatoxins in horse feeds
You can’t tell whether feed is contaminated by mycotoxins just by looking at it; even feeds that don’t appear obviously moldy can have high toxin levels. | Photo: iStock

Q.I recently heard about aflatoxins in horse feed. I’ve never heard of these before. What are they, how common are they, and how can I protect my horse?

—Via e-mail

A.Earlier this month, a manufacturer voluntary recalled feed that contained higher aflatoxin levels than allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aflatoxins are a group of chemically related mycotoxins that some common molds produce as a byproduct

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Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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