Horses will eat many different types of things when given a chance. This even includes moldy grain. It may be that you or another person left a bag of grain and forgot about it. In the meantime, the grain has become moldy.
If a horse finds the grain, he may think this is a yummy snack and eat it. They will take advantage of grain or hay that’s been left out and grab a snack when they can!
But what happens if your horse eats moldy grain?
Moldy Grain is Dangerous for Horses
To start with, you should never feed moldy grain to your horse. However, accidents can happen. Moldy grains can cause serious health issues in a horse. For one thing moldy grain can cause colic and other issues. This is due to the formation of mycotoxins in the grain.
Moldy grains can be contaminated with mycotoxins. These are harmful substances that are produced be molds and can be found in the dirt, in any type of vegetable matter such as grains. Mycotoxins can be formed in the field, during harvest, or even when stored.
Mycotoxins Can Cause Serious Health Issues in Horses
Mycotoxins from moldy grain can cause respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurologic and other health problems. They can even cause death in horses.
Symptoms of Mycotoxins in Horses
You may notice these symptoms if your horse has eaten moldy grain:
- Skin allergies & inflammation
- Respiratory blockage
- Respiratory diseases (can include COPD, and other respiratory conditions)
- Feed withdrawal (horse not interesting in their feed)
- Liver problems
- Reproductive problems
If you notice these symptoms in your horse, then call the vet immediately. This could be a medical emergency.
Treatment of Mycotoxins in Horses
These can be difficult to diagnose and treat. If a vet suspects the horse may have mycotoxicosis, then they may want to test your horse’s feed for molds and mycotoxins using accredited labs. The vet will probably also run lab tests on your horse’s blood. Tests can also include examination of urine and fecal matter.
When a diagnosis has been made, the vet may instruct you to keep your horse comfortable. Not many horses survive this type of poisoning. The ones that do usually end up with neurological issues. There is no treatment for this disease. Horses can even lose their intelligence due to this condition.
Prevention is the best medicine and practice to avoid this type of health issue in your horse. This means ensuring that all feed is fresh and free of mold before giving it to your horse. In addition, you’ll need to make sure that all uneaten food and old hay are cleaned out of your horse’s stall and paddock every day.