What is DON?

Whether you know it as type B trichothecenes, deoxynivalenol, vomitoxin or DON, it is one of the most prevalent mycotoxins, not only in North America, but in the world.

DON is a type B trichothecene, which also includes DON and 3-AcDON, 15-AcDON, DON-3-glucoside, nivalenol and fusarenon X. 3-AcDON is considered half as toxic as DON, while 15-AcDON and nivalenol are twice as potent.

Where is it found?

Since 2015, 71 percent of all samples submitted worldwide to the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory contained DON — that’s 11,279 out of a total of 15,887 samples.

Deoxynivalenol is a common mycotoxin in all feedstuffs, although corn and corn products typically show a higher prevalence for this form of mycotoxin.

The same lab analysis shows 69 percent of corn grain contains DON, while 84 percent of corn forages contain DON (this compares to 48 percent of DON contamination in other grains).

Eighty-five percent of corn byproduct samples also contained DON. Finished feed and TMR samples that showed DON were at 73 and 84 percent, respectively. This puts a large percentage of all livestock feeds at a risk to DON.

What are the effects?

The risk that DON poses begins with its ability to decrease feed intake or cause feed refusal. This has been explained (Smith, 2014) in that the consumption of DON inhibits protein synthesis in the liver, increasing brain uptake of tryptophan and the synthesis of serotonin.

The results are decreased feed intake and potential vomiting. The results of decreased feed intake are lower performance via less gain, lower milk production or fewer eggs.

DON can also have a significant impact on immune response. This stems from the action it has on the gut, where 70 to 80 percent of the immune system is located.

DON removes the mucin layer that protects the villi, observed as mucin tags found in the manure. Once the mucin has been removed, there is lower protection from pathogens. There is also a loosening of tight junctions and an altering of villi height and crypt depth. Gut health is depressed and overall animal health is challenged.

How to track it

Often, DON is thought to be a problem only if feed is refused or animals vomit. When these symptoms are present, DON will be at a higher risk. However, DON at lower risk levels can also cause a loss of performance and challenge the health of livestock. The high prevalence of DON in feed ingredients and finished feeds only increases the risk of these effects.

If you spot these negative symptoms in your livestock or believe their feed is at high risk of DON contamination, Alltech can help you accurately pinpoint the threat and treat the effects, with the comprehensive Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis.