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Effect of feeding sorghum ergot (Claviceps africana) to sows during mid-lactation on plasma prolactin and litter performance

Kopinski, J.S., Blaney, B.J., Murray, S.-A., Downing, J.A.
Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2008 v.92 no.5 pp. 554-561
Claviceps, alkaloids, body weight, diet, early lactation, ergot, feed intake, litter weight, milk production, piglets, prolactin, sows, weaning, weight gain, weight loss
Diets containing 3% sorghum ergot (16 mg alkaloids/kg, including 14 mg dihydroergosine/kg) were fed to 12 sows from 14 days post-farrowing until weaning 14 days later, and their performance was compared with that of 10 control sows. Ergot-fed sows displayed a smaller weight loss during lactation of 24 kg/head vs. 29 kg/head in control sows (p > 0.05) despite feed consumption being less (61 kg/head total feed intake vs. 73 kg/head by control sows; p < 0.05). Ergot-fed sows had poorer weight gain of litters over the 14-day period (16.6 kg/litter vs. 28.3 kg/litter for controls; p < 0.05) despite an increase in consumption of creep feed by the piglets from the ergot-fed sows (1.9 kg/litter compared with 1.1 kg/litter by the control; p > 0.05). Sow plasma prolactin was reduced with ergot feeding after 7 days to 4.8 μg/l compared with 15.1 μg/l in the control sows (p < 0.01) and then at weaning was 4.9 μg/l compared with 8.0 μg/l (p < 0.01) in the control sows. Two sows fed ergot ceased lactation early, and the above sow feed intakes, body weight losses with litter weight gains and creep consumption indirectly indicate an ergot effect on milk production.