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Major crops affected:

Corn and wheat crops.

Associated mold:


Conditions favoring production:

Cool, wet. After infestation of Fusarium mold, warm conditions promote more mold while cool conditions promote more zearalenone toxin. Growth occurs more often in storage than in the field.


Has a chemical structure similar to estrogen and can produce an estrogenic response in animals. Several case reports have related ZEA to estrogenic responses in ruminants (Kallela and Ettala, 1984; Khamis et al., 1986; Mirocha et al., 1968; Mirocha et al., 1974; and Roine et al., 1971).

Swine are especially susceptible to zearalenone effects. Physiological responses in swine occur when zearalenone level in corn used for feeds exceeds about 1 ppm (Kurtz and Mirocah, 1978).

FDA Levels:

There are no advisory levels currently available. The FDA recommends only that the level of concern for zearalenone be observed.

Zearalenone (ppb) Concern Levela Cattleb Swineb
Major ingredient (dry basis) 560 5,600-10,000 1,100-5,600
TRDMe 560 3,900-7,000 600-3,900

a Level indicating possible favorable conditions for mycotoxins and probable need for further testing of all feeds or the TMR. Pending further tests, negative samples should be considered at concern levels in the presence of moderate symptoms and at harmful levels with marked symptoms. Limit amounts fed if moderate performance effects are present. Discontinue use at least temporarily if pronounced performance effects or acute clinical symptoms are present. Closely observe animals and continue checking for other possible causes.

b Potentially Harmful - Mycotoxins at these levels indicate probably involvement in performance effects or acute clinical symptoms. Discontinue feeding at least temporarily in the presence of either type of symptoms. Observe animals closely in the absence of symptoms and do further testing of all feeds or the TMR.

e TRDM = total ration dry matter.


Adams, Richard S., Kenneth B. Kephart, Virginia A. Ishler, Lawrence J. Hutchinson, and Gregory W. Roth. "Mold and Mycotoxin Problems in Livestock Feeding." Dairy Cattle Nutrition (Penn State Extension). Penn State Extension, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

Kallela, K., and E. Ettala. 1984. The oestrogenic Fusarium toxin (zearalenone) in hay as a cause of early abortions in the cow. Nord. Vet. Med. 36:305-309

Khamis, Y., H.A. Hammad, and N.A. Hemedia. 1986. Mycotoxicosis with oestrogenic effect in cattle. Zuchthyg. 21:233-236.

Mirocha, C.J., J. Harrison, A.A. Nichols, and M. McClintock. 1968. Detection of fungal estogen (F-2) in hay associated with infertility in dairy cattle. Appl. Microbiol. 16:797-798

Mirocha, C.J., B. Schauerhamer, and S.V. Pathre. 1974. Isolation, detection and quantitation of zearalenone in maize and barley. J. Assoc. Off. Anal. Chem. 57:1104 1110.

Roine, K., E.E. Korpinen, and K.Kallela. 1971. Mycotoxicosis as a probably cause of infertility in dairy cows. Nord. Vet. Med. 23:628-633.

Kurtz, H.J. and C.J. Mirocha. 1978. Zearalenone (F2) induced estrogenic syndromin swine. Pp. 1256-1264. In T.D. Wyllie and L.G. Morehouse (eds.) Mycotoxic fungi, mycotoxins, mycotoxicoses. Vol. 2. Marcel Dekker, New York.

For more information call Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. at 608-323-2123 or contact us here.