Trouw Nutrition research shows smectites clay mitigates immune and performance effects of Aflatoxin B1 in poultry and swine

15 March 2018

15 March 2018, Amersfoort, the Netherlands

At the 10th conference of The World Mycotoxin Forum, March 12-14 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Trouw Nutrition researchers presented findings from two recent studies examining how smectites clay can mitigate the immune and performance effects of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in feed. The studies explored the effects of smectites clay supplementation in broilers and weaned piglets, respectively.
The World Mycotoxin Forum, is the leading international meeting proving a platform for the food and the feed industry, regulatory authorities and research on the topic of mycotoxins and mycotoxin mitigation.

Smectite clay supplementation's effects on piglets

The first study, a two-phase investigation, included 400 mixed sex, cross-bred piglets, 28 days old. The piglets were randomly assigned to four treatment groups for days 1-14.

The study tracked body weight, average daily gain, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and average daily feed intake. The piglets in the two groups receiving a smectite based mycotoxin binder had 9.6% higher body weight and 4.3% greater feed intake versus the piglets exposed to AFB1 without the smectite mycotoxin binder. The piglets in the smectite mycotoxin binder groups also had a 5.0% lower FCR than the piglets in the positive control group. From day 15 until the experiment ended at day 35, all piglets were fed a standard commercial pig diet. When the AFB1 and smectite mycotoxin binder were discontinued in the second phase of the study, final weights for the pigs in the smectite mycotoxin groups remained significantly higher, at 4.2% higher for treatment 3 and 3% higher for treatment 4.
The Trouw Nutrition research team concluded that including smectite mycotoxin binders at 0.2% or 0.4% can mitigate the toxicological effects of AFB1, contributing to overall better performance for piglets.

Smectite clay supplementation's effects on broilers

The second study, conducted in partnership with a team of researchers from Trouw Nutrition and Hunan Agricultural University in China, examined a similar effect when smectite clay was added to the diets of broiler chickens. In this 42-day study, 480 male broilers were randomly distributed to six treatments. The birds were fed diets containing 0, 100 or 200 ppb of AFB1 and 0 or 2.5 kg per tonne of smectites clay. The study was divided into two feeding periods (days 1-21 and days 22-42), and at the end of each period, birds were analyzed for multiple factors including growth performance, organ index, intestinal morphology, secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) of jejunal mucosa and liver and spleen cytokines.

The effect on immune function and growth performance

The study found that consuming feed contaminated with AFB1 (at both 100 and 200 ppb) had an adverse effect on broiler growth performance and immune function. When birds exposed to AFB1 were also fed a supplement of smectites clay, immune effects were mitigated and final weight and average daily gain improved.

Birds exposed to AFB1 showed an increased thymus index, an effect that decreased when smectites clay was added to the diet. The liver and spleen showed similar positive responses to the smectites clay following AFB1 exposure. Birds fed smectites clay also had significantly increased villous height and crypt depth of the duodenum and jejunum, indicating a healthier intestinal morphology compared to the birds that did not receive smectites clay. While AFB1 exposure tended to significantly decrease feed intake at the early phase of the study, by late phase, birds fed smectites clay had overcome this initial challenge with significantly increased final weight and average daily gain.

Reducing the negative impact of mycotoxins

"What we observed was that as exposure to AFB1 created an inflammatory response in the birds, smectites clay relieved the negative impacts of the mycotoxin," explained Yanming Han, principal researcher for Trouw Nutrition and one of the study's authors. "We believe that by reducing that immune response, the birds can devote their energy and resources to growth, resulting in the improved average daily gains and final weights we observed in our smectites clay-fed broilers."

Smectites clay can help manage aflatoxin risk

A recent Trouw Nutrition analysis of 2017 harvest data revealed that mycotoxin presence in crops increased by 6% (to 68% total) compared to 2016. Aflatoxins were present in 91% of the samples tested. Han noted, "The high rate of mycotoxin presence has producers concerned about resulting effects on growth and performance. These studies indicate that supplementing feed with smectites clay can be an effective way to offset the presence of potentially damaging AFB1 in feed."