A research survey of horse farms, under the supervision of Dr. Trevor Smith, is being conducting by Melissa Mortson, fourth year student in the B.Sc. Animal Biology program in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Guelph.
The researchers are in the process of recruiting interested horse farms. Hay and concentrate samples will be taken from each farm, as well as a blood sample from one of the horses. The purpose of this study is to identify a potential biomarker in the blood that will allow the detection of possible early exposure to mycotoxins.
Equine mycotoxicosis is a syndrome in the horse that can be the result of consumption of feed or forage that has been contaminated with mycotoxins produced by molds. Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites that can cause severe, acute symptoms of disease in animals when consumed at high levels. When consumed in relatively low amounts over a long period of time, however, they can cause chronic and sub-chronic toxicological conditions that may affect subsequent equine performance and/or breeding ability.
It would be valuable, therefore, for the equine industry to be able to identify if a horse has had an early exposure to mycotoxins before symptoms arise. Some mycotoxin-specific biomarkers have been identified but it is necessary to determine a more general marker that will reflect exposure to a wide range of mycotoxins.
Each farm participating in the study will receive the results of the analysis from their farm and will be kept informed of the progress of the study as it is completed.
For those interested in participating or for more information please contact Melissa Mortson,
Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph.