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 Moderated by: DrDeb  

Joined: Fri Nov 12th, 2010
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What exactly is a mycotoxin binder? I received my copy of the Poison Plant book and am looking at everything my horse eats. My concern is his feed has soybean and flax -which I should eliminate - but it also has a mycotoxin binder. I confess ignorance at not truly understanding this mycotoxin binder and what it is made of or called by other names. Is it similiar to a probiotic? (I'm not looking for brand names - just want to know more about this so I gain some knowledge.) Thank you. 





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Evermore: Several aspects to your query. Flax should certainly not be part of a horse ration, unless it has been cooked or heated to a high enough temperature to de-activate the chemicals in it that, when uncooked, metabolize to cyanide.

Soybean might or might not be OK. It depends upon which part of the soybean you are actually feeding. The beans are the part that you don't want -- but the hulls are OK. So if you are feeding soybean hull, that will be in there to provide "roughage" or in other words "structural carbohydrate". I myself use a bagged product that is based on soybean hull, and I feed it because it's great tummy filler that has low available sugar (i.e., "non structural carbohydrate", the type of carbs that get horses in trouble with founder/laminitis).

Mycotoxin binder is OK too, although I think you should investigate to see whether there is enough of it in the daily ration to actually do you any good. Mycotoxins, as you can read in the Poison Plants book, are produced by fungi that grow and reproduce within the body of a plant that we might give horses for food, i.e. say ryegrass or tall fescue. Almost all commercially-produced "grass seed mixes" today contain myco-fungi -- either the naturally occurring sort, or more insidiously, those that have been introduced into the grass by innoculation. Grass seed producers love these "myco" grasses because when insects try to eat the emerging shoot when the grass germinates, the mycotoxin kills the insects and the farmer or the guy who is trying to start a lawn get a much higher rate of "emergence". Mycotoxins are thus also called "pre-emergent insecticide".

Mycotoxin binders are substances that have the ability to absorb and/or deactivate mycotoxins that are eaten by the horse. So for example if the animal is on tall fescue, which 100% of the time will have mycotoxin-producing fungi in it, but you feed a mycotoxin binder, there is a demonstrated protective effect. It is not 100% effective, however, even when fed in high doses, but it does have some protective effect.

Much more effective is to get your horse entirely off tall fescue and other grass species that harbor mycotoxin-producing fungi, especially those strains of grass that are labeled "improved" because they contain strains of fungi bred in the laboratory and then innoculated into the grass. The lab strains are much more toxic than the naturally-occurring ones and there have been many cases of foal abortions in Kentucky on farms that had previously seeded over with such "improved" grass strains.

Unfortunately, it is commonly a huge amount of trouble and often a huge expense to get horses off these so-called "improved" pastures, and/or to avoid hay containing these. I would not myself want to depend upon mycotoxin binder as a solution, because it is not a complete solution and long-term exposure to the mycotoxins will continue its deleterious effects on your horse's soundness, just as it is the world's greatest cause of founder in cattle.

Changing the pasture is expensive and difficult. Jenny Paterson in New Zealand, and others around the world, have experimented with "track pastures" -- i.e. instead of just cross-fencing to put the horses on the currently-best part of the pasture while you kill out and re-grow other sections, and then switch while you kill out and re-seed the part the horses had been on -- instead of just doing this, what you do is you fence a track around the edge of the pasture that wiggles and serpentines its way around the acreage. You put the water in one spot, the feed in another, so that the animals are encouraged to move. You fence it wide enough that they won't hurt themselves or get trapped, but narrow enough that they will, by simply moving around, wear out all the grass and beat it into dirt. You then essentially have a fancy and entertaining drylot, which is exactly what you do want if you have toxic grasses and are going to have to feed hay anyway. Then when you have killed out and re-seeded the center of the acreage, you switch the horses onto that and then go to re-seeding your track. You can either put permanent fence or temporary, depending on how you want your property to look ten years down the pike, when this is all done.

The keyword in the above is "dry lot". This is the one and only way that you can control everything (well -- nearly everything) that goes in the front end. It is a pain to those who own lush pasturage and had been counting on this as a way to save money -- hay costs mucho plenty money and it's only going to get worse, as long as politicians who have no environmental knowledge and/or no ethics continue to push gasohol made of corn. When we learn to build plants that burn Johnson grass, crabgrass, or cornstalks, only then will the price of hay come down, for we will then not be using feedstuff to make gasoline, which is about as smart as cutting off your own legs while you pretend you can fly. -- Dr. Deb


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