In Nigeria, dairy industry holds monumental prospects in the management of protein deficiencies among the timid Nigerian populace. Emergence of metabolic products of some important fungi, Aflatoxins B1 and M1 (AFB1 and AFM1), may hamper such potentials and poses public health threat to the consumers of dairy products. Hence, the need to undertake a study with the view of evaluating AFB1 and AFM1 levels in dairy cattle production. A total of 180 samples, each of cattle feed and cow milk were analyzed using Cobra cell incorporated HPLC technique. Significant number of feed (89%) and milk (94%) turned out positive for AFB1 and AFM1, respectively. Factors of production such as the holding-capacity (size) of the dairy herds, type of dairy herds and the type of dairy cattle feed were used to evaluate and determine the occurrence of the toxins. Results showed that most of these factors affect the distribution of the toxins significantly (P<0.05).Traditional dairy herds, which constitute the greatest part of the small-holder dairy herds, showed the largest significant number of farms (P<0.05) with detectable levels of AFB1 and AFM1 above the acceptable concentration limits in fresh cow milk. It is recommended that critical factors of dairy production be given thorough regulatory considerations as they were observed to play significant role in the occurrence of aflatoxins in dairy products. Also, the management of the traditional dairy herds should be properly guided by the relevant legislation as it constitutes greater part of the dairy production in Nigeria.
Keywords: Dairy production, Aflatoxin B1, Aflatoxin M1, Feed, Cow milk, Northern Nigeria