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Ochratoxicosis

Ochratoxicosis is caused by ingestion of ochratoxin A (OTA), which is a specific type of mycotoxin produced by fungi, that is has been estimated to contaminate 25% of the world's grains that are used for food (FAO 2001). Fungi can develop prior to harvest while growing in the fields, during transport, during mixing or while in storage.
The resulting toxic effects of chickens consuming OTA contaminated feed include:
  • Inhibition of protein synthesis
  • Induction of lipid peroxidation
  • Impairment of calcium homeostasis
  • Oxidative stress
  • DNA damage
  • Increased incidents of food allergies
  • Reduced blood coagulability
  • Destruction of digestive enzymes
  • Reduced immunity, leading to increased susceptibility to invasion by harmful pathogens
  • Circulatory system damage
Several experimental feeding trials with OTA contaminated feeds have indicated its harmful effects on growing chicks and its potential risk for the poultry industry. The oral LD50 value for chicks is 3.6 mg/kg.

Symptoms

Rapid weight loss
Lethargy
Huddling
Decreased appetite
Increased thirst
Weakness
Reduced egg production
Poor hatchability
Thin-shelled eggs
Egg yolk w/blood or meat spots
Decreased body temperature
Excessive urates
Yellow diarrhea

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Postmortem results
  • Ochratoxin Quantitative Analysis

Treatment

MethodDetails
Supportive care
Removal of moldy feed from diet
L-carnitine + vitamin EAdded to feed at 1 g/kg (L-carnitine) and 200 mg/kg (vitamin E)Abidin Z et al., 2013
Banana peelAdded dried banana peel to feedShar ZH et al., 2016
Provide probioticsSpecifically containing several species of lactobacillus bacteriaSlizewska et al., 2014

Prevention

  • Probiotics: Adding probiotics can reduce the amount of OTA by 55% : Slizewska et al., 2014
  • Properly store poultry feed, for no longer than a month in duration and in an air-tight container that is free from moisture accumulation and not exposed to sunlight, insect contamination, or rodents.
  • Inspect feed daily : Look over quality of feed prior to giving to birds.
  • Do not feed anything to birds that is suspected of contamination with mold, insects, spoiled, or has been continuously refused by your chickens.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Improper feed storage
  • High humidity levels
  • Infestation with insects
  • Moisture access
  • Concurrent vitamin or mineral deficiency