mycotoxins in straw?

Published: 2021-05-12

Straw is used large scale in pig production for different purposes - mainly for pig housing, bedding and welfare.

For many years straw has been used without too much concern or consideration. In below article we comment on a straw mycotoxin analysis conducted in Denmark which provides a very good image of what straw can be ´hiding´ and what can be done to avoid this.

48 straw samples from barley and wheat from Denmark have been analyzed in 2020 with a multimycotoxin method (called Spectrum 380®).

Looking at the main well known mycotoxins (field fungi):

  • The B-trichothecene deoxynivalenol DON was the most prevalent in more than every 2nd sample (54%)
  • Followed by the A-trichothecene T-2 toxin in 27% of samples
  • Followed by zearalenone, another Fusarium mycotoxin

Straw is used large scale in pig production for different purposes - mainly for pig housing, bedding and welfare.

But what if mycotoxins end up in the straw?

Source: Biomin 2021

What contributes a lot to the risk in the straw samples is to take into consideration:

  • Less well known trichothecenes (e.g. Nivalenol)
  • Masked forms of mycotoxins

The masked form of DON:  The masked mycotoxin called DON-3 glucoside

A glucose molecule gets attached to DON in the plant as a defense mechanism. This form can be detected by Spectrum 380®  – but not by most conventional methods (thus it is called a masked mycotoxin).

DON-3-glucoside is less toxic but the glucose gets cleaved in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and the toxic parent compound DON is present and has detrimental effects on the animals. This DON-3-glucoside was present in 48% of the straw samples.

DON-3-glucoside adds up to the overall DON concentration (in the samples in which both are present). Other examples of masked mycotoxins are 15-Hydroxyculmorin, HT-2 glucoside and Nivalenol glucoside.

Source: Biomin 2021

In 35% of the straw samples the B-trichothecene Nivalenol (NIV) was present.
NIV provokes similar effects than other trichothecenes. It shows acute toxicity: anorectic effects, growth suppression, immunotoxicity and hematotoxicity. Nivalenol impairs as other trichothecenes protein-production. It can significantly add up to toxic load. It is more cytotoxic than DON in intestinal cells of pigs and ruminants.

Example of a synergetic effect: DON and culmorin

In 75% of the straw samples from Denmark, culmorin was found - and in 67% of samples 15-hydroxy-culmorin (masked form of culmorin).
A publication in 2019 suggests a possible negative influence of culmorin on DON detoxification in mammals: => decreased detoxification of DON in animals might increase its negative effects.


The straw analyses taken in Denmark show that there is a risk due to the co-occurrence of many different B- and A-trichothecenes. (DON, DON-3-glucoside, Nivalenol, T-2, HT-2). Mycotoxins are invisible and hard to find without analyses.

The limit of the harmful level is difficult to set. The occurence of more than one mycotoxin will have a synergetic effect. There will be an add-on effect when mycotoxins are present in more than one feed stuff.

The innovative toxin binder X-Bond from Vilomix

Vilomix has developed the toxin binder X-Bond to counter the effects of mycotoxins. X-Bond is an effective triple-action toxin eliminator that not only binds and deactivates naturally occurring mycotoxins. It also supports animal well-being and performance by delivering a functional nutrient complex.

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