University News for October 3, 2011
A swine nutritionist with the Saskatoon-based Prairie Swine Centre is urging pork producers to be aware of the potential risk of ergot contamination in cereal grains this year.
Ergot, a fungal disease that thrives under cool damp conditions like those experienced this year, infects cereal grains at the flowering stage and has been the biggest downgrading factor affecting cereals on the prairies this year.
The fungus produces a toxin that, when fed to swine, tends to cause feed refusal among grow-finish pigs and when fed even at low levels to pigs destined for the breeding herd, impacts the production of hormones associated reproduction.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Saskatoon-based Prairie Swine Centre, says when experiments were conducted a few years ago looking at the effect of ergot on the growth of weanling pigs, the first thing observed was a depression in feed intake which affected overall performance.
Clip-Dr. Denise BeaulieuPrairie Swine Centre:
You can actually look at it and see the fungus itself and it's black so you can actually see the physical evidence of the fungus on the grain itself.
The fungus itself contains the toxins which are alkaloids and there are many different types of alkaloids so depending on the concentration of alkaloids and the actual type of alkaloid you have, that would influence the toxicity.
We have shown that you can have it in the diet at not greater than 0.1 percent so if you suspect it, have your grains tested for it.
The simplest test is just looking for the fungus itself and then dilute out your ration so you are sure that it is not higher than 0.1 percent and certainly again do not feed it to the sows that will be destined for breeding.
In some cases contamination can be reduced to acceptable levels by cleaning the grain or toxin levels can be reduced by mixing contaminated grain with uninfected grain.
However, Dr. Beaulieu discourages feeding any level of contaminated grain to pigs that will become part of the breeding herd.
For UniversityNews.Org, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
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