Aflatoxins are produced by molds growing in corn, peanuts, and other grain and pulse crops. This widespread toxicant can cause reduced feed intake and both acute and chronic liver damage. Highly carcinogenic, this is one of the few important natural toxins that can pass into animal products in sufficient amounts to threaten human health. Zearalenone, which is produced by a different mold in corn, is a powerful estrogen analogue that can cause feminization of male animals and disruption of reproduction in females.
Ergot grows not only on rye grain, but also in rye grass, and is related to a fungus that grows in fescue as well. Chemicals released by this fungus cause feed intake to be reduced, problems with abortion, reduced milk production, gangrene at the joints, nervous symptoms, and skin necrosis.
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