June 13, 2011

 

Australian consultant warns of pasture toxin

 

 

The potential impact of mycotoxins on dairy herds has been significantly underestimated, said Dr Ian Lean of Strategic Bovine Services and Cattle Production Consultants (SBScibus).

 

Lean spoke about mycotoxins at the DairySA South East Innovation Day at Mt Gambier, Australia last week.

 

Mycotoxins are the secondary metabolites of fungi and have the capacity to impair animal health and production. Lean said farmers dealt mostly with fungal endophytes that affected perennial ryegrass. These toxins are expressed from the grass when it is stressed.

 

The other group of mycotoxins is fusarium, fungi that grows on the outside of grasses, hay and silage.  Ryegrass staggers is an example of a mycotoxin affecting cattle.

 

Lean said the southeast region was particularly susceptible to this toxin caused by a fungal endophyte in ryegrass called neo typhodium lolii. It produces the toxin Lolitrem B when the plant is stressed, such as when it is more than 30 degrees celsius or during the summer when ryegrass is reproducing.

 

The danger to cattle comes when ryegrass with Lolitrem B is consumed. Lean said the impact of these toxins had been underestimated, mainly because there was not a lot of research into why in some cases farms drop in milk production. Lower production could often be linked to mycotoxins.

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