We try hard to always buy our horses the best quality forage and feed available and we know that feed must always be mold free. But did you know that in actual fact, feed and forage is rarely ever completely mold free? Even the cleanest feeds and forages can contain trace amounts of molds known as mycotoxins. They also exist in your horse’s bedding which your horse may consume or inhale.
A large range of mycotoxin molds exist, but some of the more common are aflatoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus and found most commonly in corn, hays and pasture. Fumonisin produced by Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum and found on corn and ergotoxine produced by Claviceps and found on pasture grass, hay, wheat and barley.
Aflatoxin is most commonly a concern in warm humid areas and in feeds that have a high moisture content such as brewing by-products or when grains are harvested under wet conditions. Fumonisin is found where ever corn is found. Other mycotoxins are common on harvested grain. It can be hard to diagnose issues relating to mycotoxin consumption because they are somewhat vague and can be attributed to other things. Some side effects include reduced feed intake, poor appetite, colic, poor performance, decreased reproductive capacity, immune-suppression and liver damage.
Clearly these are not compounds you want your horse to consume in any great quantity but if they are present, even in small quantities, what can you do about it?
Did You Know:
As early as 23-79 AD, Pliny the Elder recounted the cure for intestinal ailments in people through the ingestion of volcanic muds, and healing clays were noted even before this by Aristotle (384-322 BC). Since then, edible clays have been used to soothe inflamed gastrointestinal tissue. Use in animals was first noted in the second century by A.D. Galen a Greek philosopher and physician.
Today a wide range of over-the-counter clay like products are available for humans that help with conditions such as diarrhea, intestinal illnesses and that soothe gastrointestinal tissue. The physical and chemical structure of these clays is somewhat unique giving them both adsorptive and absorptive capabilities. Adsorption is the process of attraction, binding and accumulation of molecules and particles to a solid surface. Things stick to clays that have adsorptive capacity and this happens to include mycotoxins, especially aflatoxins.
Extensive research has been carried out feeding bentonite clay to a range of species including swine, poultry and ruminants. In most cases the addition of clay to the rations has resulted in increased secretion of mycotoxins from the digestive tract, a reduction of toxin accumulation in the liver and improved feed efficiency. Anecdotal accounts of feeding clay to horses include reports of blossoming condition and improved coat quality as well as signs that suggest that the clay is supporting gastrointestinal function.
Show Horse Nutrition Conditioning Salt utilizes human grade bentonite clay combined with salt and vegetable oil. Feeding the recommended daily amount of Conditioning Salt provides an average sized horse with the daily maintenance requirement of sodium to ensure hydration while also promoting digestive tract health and whole-body wellness through the benefits of bentonite clay. Its daily use provides an insurance policy against the things that you can’t see and don’t want that might be in your horse’s feed.