Practices used by smallholder dairy farmers for handling of feeds at the farm pose a risk of mycotoxins to dairy animals and dairy products, hence a public health concern. The aim of the study was to document the on-farm practices of handling feeds used by these farmers and how they influence the growth of mycotoxin producing fungi together with prevailing extrinsic conditions. Study involved the use of structured questionnaire for interview of smallholder dairy farmers (n=120) for on-farm feed handling practices and collection of feed samples (n=97) for microbial analysis of the mycotoxin producing molds. The fungi counts were interrelated with the feed handling practice and therefore a measure of its impact. Results found out that rural dairy system was characterized by practice of free range grazing unlike peri-urban system practice that had semi-intensive stall feeding. At the farm level, the type feeds storage facility and the type and condition of feeds were found to be significant risk factors (p<0.05) for infestation of mycotoxic fungi. Feed contamination on farm at the sub-value chains with mycotoxic fungi is primarily due to poor storage facilities exposing feed to environmental conditions that favors fungi growth.
Key words: Feeds, fungi, mycotoxins, Aspergillus, Fusarium, Kenyan smallholder farmers.
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