Assessing ergot's impact, determining safe feeding levels, and reducing its toxicity


Feeding livestock means being aware of what nasty toxins may lurk in feed. From listeria, to DON, to ergot, several plant disease or soil-borne issues can end up in a final feed source. When issues arise, farmers and ranchers depend on testing and industry guidelines to know how much can safely be fed in a ration.

Dr. Kim Stanford, researcher at the University of Lethbridge, is working on those guidelines for ergot, because as it turns out, there are plenty of unknowns when it comes to the vaso-constricting ergot alkaloids produced by the disease.

Stanford explains that it is known how ergot in a ration can impact livestock, including loss of tails or ears, or increased heat stress, and that poultry can consume more ergot-infested feed as a percentage than pigs or cows.

But what Stanford’s research is looking into is how different alkaloids impact livestock, what levels can be fed safely, and if there’s an opportunity to process feed in such a way as to destroy the toxin.

Listen on to the full interview with Stanford as she shares what her research has found to date and what’s yet to be determined:

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