Researchers Examine Value of Feed Processing to Reduce Ergot Toxicity

Oct 31, 2022

Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan are examining the value of processing using heat and steam to reduce the toxicity of ergot in feed grains.

Ergot is a fungal disease that infects cereal grains and produces toxins that will impact the performance of pigs.
Dr. Denice Beaulieu, an assistant professor Monogastric Nutrition with the University of Saskatchewan, says there is some evidence in the research that suggests the toxicity of ergot in diets processed by heat and steam is decreased.

Clip-Dr. Denice Beaulieu-University of Saskatchewan:

The premise behind this would be that, because ergot is several chemicals, there's several alkaloids that can make up ergot and within each of these alkaloids can be two different epimers, and r-epimer and an s-epimer.

We always through that the r-epimer was more active than the s-epimer, so more toxic than the s and there's some evidence that with processing the s-epimer is becoming more and the r-epimer is becoming less, so we hypothesised that processing with pelleting, steam explosion, extrusion would decrease the overall toxicity of the ergot alkaloids by changing the epimer ratios.

So, we conducted feeding trials with pigs at the Prairie Swine center and we fed them diets with zero to four parts per million ergot alkaloids with or without processing.

We did indeed see effects of ergot but we saw no effect of processing on these results.Whether the feed had been processed by extrusion or pelleted, it did not effect the toxicity.4 ppm ergot had the same effect regardless of processing.

Dr. Beaulieu says, since the epimer profile was changed with processing but we saw no effect on toxicity, researchers have concluded that the r-epimer and s-epimer have equal toxicity.

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