Effects of different levels of ergot in concentrate on the health and performance of male calves

Institute of Animal Nutrition, Federal Agriculture Research Centre (FAL), Bundesallee 50, 38116, Braunschweig, Germany.
Mycotoxin Research 03/2007; 23(1):43-55. DOI: 10.1007/BF02946024
Source: PubMed


A number of studies dealing with the effects of ergot and ergot alkaloids on the health and performance of poultry and pigs were reported in the past, but only a few studies and field reports are available for ruminants. Therefore, a dose-response study was carried out with calves since young animals are considered to be especially sensitive to ergot.A total of 35 male Holstein calves were randomly assigned to three feeding groups after one month of feeding milk replacer. The mean initial live weight of the calves was 49.4±5.7 kg. One control group was fed an ergot-free concentrate (n=12), one group an ergot proportion of 1000 mg/kg in the concentrate (n=ll), and another group was fed a concentrate containing 5000 mg/kg ergot (n=12). Hay, grass silage and water were available forad libitum consumption, whereas the daily concentrate portion was restricted to 2 kg. Live weight, health parameters and feed intake were monitored over the experimental period of 84 days. In addition, blood samples were taken from theVena jugularis at the beginning and at the end of the experiment and analysed for ergot alkaloids and liver parameters.Total dry matter intake, live weight gain and feed-to-gain ratio were not significantly influenced by increasing ergot proportions when the whole experimental period was considered, although there was a trend for an ergot-related decrease in concentrate intake during the first 6 weeks of the experiment. After this period of time, it seemed that calves got used to the presence of ergot in the concentrate and were able to adjust their intake to the level of the control group. Moreover, health and liver parameters, such as total bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase, glutamate dehydrogenase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and creatine kinase in the serum were not significantly influenced by dietary treatments. Concentrations of the individual ergot alkaloids in serum were lower than the detection limits of the applied HPLC-method.In conclusion, it can be assumed that an ergot contamination of the concentrate up to 5000 mg/kg resulted in a transient depression of concentrate intake by the calves. However, no significant effects on health and performance could be detected when the entire test period of 84 days was considered.

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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of ergot contaminated concentrate at differing levels of feed intake on ergot alkaloid metabolism and carry over into milk. Twelve double fistulated (in the rumen and the proximal duodenum) Holstein Friesian cows were fed either the control diet (on a dry matter (DM) base: 60% maize silage, 40% concentrate) or the contaminated diet (concentrate contained 2.25% ergot, which caused an alkaloid concentration of the daily ration between 504.9 and 619.5 microg/kg DM) over a period of 4 weeks. Daily feed amounts were adjusted to the current performance which resulted in a dry matter intake (DMI) variation between 6.0 and 18.5 kg/day. The actual alkaloid exposure varied between 4.1 and 16.3 microg/kg body weight when the ergot contaminated concentrate was fed. Approximately 67% of the alkaloids fed were recovered in the duodenal ingesta, and approximately 24% were excreted with the faeces. No alkaloid residues could be detected in the blood or milk samples.
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    ABSTRACT: Hardened sclerotia (ergots) of Claviceps purpurea contaminate cereal grains and contain toxic ergot alkaloids (EA). Information on EA toxicity in ducks is scarce. Therefore, the aim of the growth experiment (Day 0-49, n = 54/group) was to titrate the lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL) for total ergot alkaloids (TEA). A control diet was prepared without ergots, and the diets designated Ergot 1 to 4 contained 1, 10, 15 and 20 g ergot per kg diet, respectively, corresponding to TEA contents of 0.0, 0.6, 7.0, 11.4 and 16.4 mg/kg. Sensitivity of ducks to EA was most pronounced at the beginning of the experiment when feed intake decreased significantly by 9%, 28%, 41% and 47% in groups Ergot 1 to 4, respectively, compared to the control group. The experiment was terminated after two weeks for ducks exposed to Ergot 3 and 4 due to significant growth retardation. Ergot alkaloid residues in edible tissues were lower than 5 ng/g. Bile was tested positive for ergonovine (=ergometrine = ergobasine) with a mean concentration of 40 ng/g. Overall, the LOAEL amounted to 0.6 mg TA/kg diet suggesting that ducks are not protected by current European Union legislation (1 g ergot/kg unground cereal grains).
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