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Feeding sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) to sows before farrowing inhibits milk production

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Kopinski, J.S., Blaney, B.J., Downing, J.A., Mcveigh, J.F. and Murray, S.A. (2007) Feeding sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) to sows before farrowing inhibits milk production. Australian Veterinary Journal, 85 (5). pp. 169-176.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-0813.2007.00139.x

Publisher URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com


Objective: To assess the impact of feeding different amounts of sorghum ergot to sows before farrowing.

Design: Fifty-one pregnant sows from a continually farrowing piggery were sequentially inducted into the experiment each week in groups of four to seven, as they approached within 14 days of farrowing. Diets containing sorghum ergot sclerotia within the range of 0 (control) up to 1.5% w/w (1.5% ergot provided 7 mg alkaloids/kg, including 6 mg dihydroergosine/kg) were randomly allocated and individually fed to sows. Ergot concentrations were varied with each subsequent group until an acceptable level of tolerance was achieved. Diets with ergot were replaced with control diets after farrowing. Post-farrowing milk production was assessed by direct palpation and observation of udders, and by piglet responses and growth. Blood samples were taken from sows on three days each week, for prolactin estimation.

Results: Three sows fed 1.5% ergot for 6 to 10 days preceding farrowing produced no milk, and 87% of their piglets died despite supplementary feeding of natural and artificial colostrums, milk replacer, and attempts to foster them onto normally lactating sows. Ergot inclusions of 0.6% to 1.2% caused lesser problems in milk release and neo-natal piglet mortality. Of 23 sows fed either 0.3% or 0.6% ergot, lactation of only two first-litter sows were affected. Ergot caused pronounced reductions in blood prolactin, and first-litter sows had lower plasma prolactin than multiparous sows, increasing their susceptibility to ergot.

Conclusion: Sorghum ergot should not exceed 0.3% (1 mg alkaloid/kg) in diets of multiparous sows fed before farrowing, and should be limited to 0.1 % for primiparous sows, or avoided completely.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Animal science
Additional Information:© Australian Veterinary Association.
Keywords:Lactation; prolactin; sorghum ergot; sows.
Subjects:Veterinary medicine > Veterinary mycology
Veterinary medicine > Diseases of special classes of animals > Swine
Science > Biology > Reproduction
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:03 Feb 2009 06:18
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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