Home-mixers urged to watch for ergot contamination

Livestock farmers in Scotland, particularly those involved in home-mixing, have been warned to be especially vigilant concerning the current risk of feed grains being subject to a heightened risk of ergot contamination.

The warning comes from specialists at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) who say they’ve been receiving reports of raised ergot levels on some farms in the Lothians and Borders in recent days.

“Our research colleagues running the SRUC Crop Clinic report receiving several samples from the area with ergot contamination,” said the college’s Dr Basil Lowman. “This would be consistent with the prolonged flowering season and local weather conditions then.”

The SRUC action was also prompted by the strict line which is now taken by the milling trade as regards the monitoring of ergot levels in grain, when samples are being considered for human consumption, an approach which results in some consignments ending back on the farm.

Although ergot problems are more usually associated with cattle and sheep feeding, than with pigs, the issue is still a danger for home-mixers in the sector with SRUC’s vets commenting that pigs can certainly be affected by ergot, such as sows going off their milk and suffering other problems.

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