Ergot Alkaloids in Fattening Chickens (Broilers): Toxic Effects and Carry over Depending on Dietary Fat Proportion and Supplementation with Non-Starch-Polysaccharide (NSP) Hydrolyzing Enzymes
Ergot alkaloids (EA) are mycotoxins produced by Claviceps purpurea. EA-toxicity is poorly characterized for fattening chickens. Therefore, a dose–response study was performed to identify the lowest, and no observed adverse effect levels (LOAEL and NOAEL, respectively) based on several endpoints. Non-starch-polysaccharide (NSP) cleaving enzyme addition and dietary fat content were additionally considered as factors potentially influencing EA-toxicity. Feed intake was proven to respond most sensitively to the EA presence in the diets. This sensitivity appeared to be time-dependent. While LOAEL corresponded to a total dietary EA content of 5.7 mg/kg until Day 14 of age, it decreased to 2.03 mg/kg when birds were exposed for a period of 35 days. Consequently, NOAEL corresponded to an EA content of 2.49 mg/kg diet until Day 14 of age, while 1.94 mg/kg diet applied until Day 35 of age. Liver lesions indicating enzyme activities in serum were increased after 14 days of exposure. Dietary fat content and NSP-enzyme supplementation modified EA toxicity in an interactive manner. The EA residues in serum, bile, liver and breast meat were <5 ng/g suggesting a negligible carry over of intact EA.