Extreme Processing Reduces Toxicity of Ergot

Farmscape for March 17, 2021

Research being conducted by the University of Saskatchewan will benefit swine producers whose crops have been contaminated by ergot.
Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan are evaluating the effect of various forms of feed processing using heat and moisture, such as pelleting, extrusion and steam explosion in reducing the toxic effects of ergot contamination. Dr. Denise Beaulieu, an Assistant Professor Monogastric Nutrition in the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources, says preliminary results show extreme processing using steam explosion reduced the toxic effects of the ergot alkaloids.

Clip-Dr. Denise Beaulieu-University of Saskatchewan:
Ergot is one of a series of mycotoxins that we see produced by a fungus that we see. It infects primarily wheat and rye and grasses.
If livestock consume very small amounts of ergot, we’ll see decreased feed intake and decreased growth and if they consume more it has an effect on circulation so it can actually cause gangrene and in very high amounts, they can lose tails and lose their ears and maybe even hooves often you’ll see. Also in sows that are lactating it’ll cause milk output to be decreased. In years where we know there is contamination, for example, we wouldn’t encourage producers to feed contaminated grains but in years where there is severe contamination, they might want to take steps to prevent the effects of ergot and or other mycotoxins in case some of the grain they are feeding has contaminants in it.

Some years a low level of contamination is in a lot of our feed grains. It varies from year to year depending upon the environment during the growing season.

Dr. Beaulieu says less drastic processing methods, such as extrusion, did not reduce the toxic effects of the ergot.
She says researchers are now seeking additional processing methods that will be effective and practical.

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