Aflatoxin in Dairy Cows: Toxicity, Occurrence in Feedstuffs and Milk and Dietary Mitigation Strategies
Toxins (Basel). 2021 Apr 17;13(4):283. doi: 10.3390/toxins13040283.
Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens produced by fungi, mainly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins can contaminate a variety of livestock feeds and cause enormous economic losses, estimated at between US$52.1 and US$1.68 billion annually for the U.S. corn industry alone. In addition, aflatoxin can be transferred from the diet to the milk of cows as aflatoxin M1 (AFM1), posing a significant human health hazard. In dairy cows, sheep and goats, chronic exposure to dietary aflatoxin can reduce milk production, impair reproduction and liver function, compromise immune function, and increase susceptibility to diseases; hence, strategies to lower aflatoxin contamination of feeds and to prevent or reduce the transfer of the toxin to milk are required for safeguarding animal and human health and improving the safety of dairy products and profitability of the dairy industry. This article provides an overview of the toxicity of aflatoxin to ruminant livestock, its occurrence in livestock feeds, and the effectiveness of different strategies for preventing and mitigating aflatoxin contamination of feeds.