Over 100 Dairy Cows put down following Ergotism Outbreak in New Zealand
This week over 100 cows on a farm in New Zealand had to be put down after digesting fungus from an infected feed supply. The herd in the Southland and Otago regions was suffering from ergot toxicity. Randox Food Diagnostics have developed the only test for this fungus on the market, which can protect your animals from injury or death.
Ergot Alkaloids are a naturally occurring fungus most commonly found in grains and grasses. Produced by a group of fungi called the Claviceps species, they infect seed heads of plants during the flowering period. The fungus replaces the developing grain with toxic ergot. The dry summer and wet autumn this year provided the optimum growing conditions for the fungus.
Typically, it causes lameness and swelling of the fetlocks and hock joints but in the most severe cases animals can lose tips of their tails, or ears or even their hooves. As in this case, it can result in animals being put down.
While all animals are at risk of contracting ergot, it is most commonly found in cattle.
According to the report, VetSouth Winton veterinarian Hayden Dore confirmed four cases have been reported in Southland and South Otago with a large number of infected cows.
“Over time it effectively causes one or more of the limbs to become gangrenous. Signs of ergot toxicity generally start with a disinterest in feed, before moving to lameness in the limbs, which presented similarly to foot rot, but without the separation of the toes. Once the limbs go cold from lack of blood supply, it would take about a week before the limbs began to fall off,” he said.
“One herd with 900 milking cows had around 130 cows infected by the poisonous fungus, with subsequently 61 of them being put down.”
Testing for Ergot Alkaloids
Randox Food Diagnostics offer the only array on the market to test for Ergot Alkaloids. Validated for flour and seed, the ELISA test offers excellent limits of detection for the toxin Ergotamine at 1ppb.