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The tolerance of steers (Bos taurus) to sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) in a feedlot during the cooler months in subtropical Queensland

McLennan, Stuart R. and Blaney, Barry J. and Doogan, Vivienne J. and Downing, Jeff A. (2017) The tolerance of steers (Bos taurus) to sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) in a feedlot during the cooler months in subtropical Queensland. Animal Production Science, 57 (5). p. 884. ISSN 1836-0939

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15485

Abstract

Two experiments tested the tolerance of steers (Bos taurus) to sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) during cooler months in south-east Queensland. Sorghum grain containing 2.8% ergot and 28 mg/kg ergot alkaloids (84% dihydroergosine, 10% dihydroelymoclavine, 6% festuclavine) was incorporated into feedlot rations. In a previous study in summer–autumn, ergot (1.1–4.4 mg alkaloids/kg ration) severely reduced performance in steers when the temperature–humidity index (THI; dry bulb temperature °C + 0.36 dew-point temperature °C + 41.2) was ~70, whereas a THI of ~79 was tolerated by steers fed ergot-free rations. Experiment 1 was conducted in winter–spring, with rations containing 0, 2.8, 5.6, 8.2 or 11.2 mg ergot alkaloids/kg ration. All ergot inclusions depressed feed intake (14% average reduction) and growth rate (34% average reduction), even when the weekly average daily THI was less than 65. Rectal temperatures were occasionally elevated in ergot-fed steers (P < 0.05), primarily when the THI exceeded ~65. All ergot inclusions depressed plasma prolactin concentrations in steers. Experiment 2 was predominantly carried out in winter, with weekly average daily THI <65 throughout the experiment. Rations containing 0, 0.28, 0.55 or 1.1 mg ergot alkaloids/kg were fed for 4 weeks but produced no significant effect on feed intakes and growth rates of steers. Alkaloid concentrations were then changed to 0, 2.1, 4.3 and 1.1 mg/kg, respectively. Subsequently, feed intakes declined by 17.5% (P < 0.05), and growth rates by 28% (P > 0.05) in the group receiving 4.3 mg/kg alkaloid, compared with Controls. Plasma prolactin concentrations were depressed, relative to the Controls, by dietary alkaloid inclusion greater than 1.1 mg/kg, with alkaloid intake of 4.3 mg/kg causing the greatest reduction (P < 0.05). Cattle performance in these studies shows steers can tolerate up to ~2 mg ergot alkaloid/kg (0.2% ergot) in feedlot rations under low THI conditions (< ~60–65), but previous findings indicate a much lower threshold will apply at higher THI (>65).

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Subjects:Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Deposited On:28 Sep 2017 06:19
Last Modified:28 Sep 2017 06:19

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