Fumonisins are toxic to horses, rabbits, swine, and catfish


Paul Vincelli

Extension Professor, Plant Pathology


The Following is a communication from Paul Vincelli, Extension Plant Pathologist, regarding fumonisin in corn. Links to more information about fuminoisin are included in this communication.


Fumonisin: Part I

The hot, dry weather many areas experienced during silking and grain fill of corn increased the risk of contamination with fumonisins.  These mycotoxins are regulated by FDA in both human foods and animal feeds.  They pose a particular risk to horses, rabbits, swine, and catfish.  More information on the risk fumonisins is available at: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id121/id121.pdf


We do not have a routine screening program for mycotoxins in Kentucky, so we have no data on the actual occurrence of contamination this year.  However, two corn samples recently  tested at the UK Grain Quality Lab raise some concerns.  By visual inspection, the samples appear to be relatively sound corn with no visible mold.  Four observers, including a local horse farmer, agreed there was nothing visual in the samples that would raise any flags about feeding to animals.  Yet the Grain Quality Lab's tests, confirmed by Neogen Corporation, indicated the samples had significant levels of fumonisins.  One sample had 12.5 ppm fumonisins, a level which greatly exceeds the FDA maximum levels established for feeding to horses and  rabbits.  The other sample, with 26.0 ppm fumonisins, meets the criteria for No. 3 yellow corn, again, with no visible evidence of mold; this one exceeds the FDA maximum level for all four animal species listed above.  These high levels would not have been detected had the farmer not specifically requested a fumonisin test. 


Producers feeding corn to horses, rabbits, swine, and catfish would be well-advised to test corn lots grown in this region in  2002 for fumonisins.  Laboratories that conduct these tests can be found at the following website




Fumonisin: Part II

I have more information on fumonisin contamination in the 2002 corn crop.  Steve Traylor, from Regulatory Services, has been testing corn lots relating to feed production.  Corn from late crops has been commonly showing levels of fumonisins between 2 - 20 ppm, especially in portions of the state from Hardin and Meade Counties west to the Land-Between-The-Lakes.  Early crops were not contaminated, according to his tests.  Late crops have a higher risk of contamination because conditions of heat and drought prevailed during silking and grain fill in these crops, which are factors that increase fumonisin risk.

Based on information I have received, it appears that some (possibly many?) corn suppliers do not appreciate the risk that fumonisins may pose to sensitive animals.  One additional note: producers should be especially careful feeding screenings, since fumonisin can sometimes be concentrated in screenings. The resources available to you on this subject are as follows:





Laboratories For Mycotoxin Tests www.ca.uky.edu/agcollege/plantpathology/PPAExten/PPFShtml/ppfmisc1.htm


Paul Vincelli

Extension Professor

Dept. of Plant Pathology

University of Kentucky

S-305 Ag Science North

Lexington, KY 40546-0091


ph 859/257-5675

fx 859/323-1961