• Alkaloids as anti-quality factors in plants on western U.S. rangelands

      Pfister, J. A.; Panter, K. E.; Gardner, D. R.; Stegelmeier, B. L.; Ralphs, M. H.; Molyneux, R. J.; Lee, S. T. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Alkaloids constitute the largest class of plant secondary compounds, occurring in 20 to 30% of perennial herbaceous species in North America. Alkaloid-containing plants are of interest, first because alkaloids often have pronounced physiological reactions when ingested by livestock, and second because alkaloids have distinctive taste characteristics. Thus, alkaloids may kill, injure, or reduce productivity of livestock, and have the potential to directly or indirectly alter diet selection. We review 7 major categories of toxic alkaloids, including pyrrolizidine (e.g., Senecio), quinolizidine (e.g., Lupinus), indolizidine (e.g., Astragalus), diterpenoid (e.g., Delphinium), piperidine (e.g., Conium), pyridine (e.g., Nicotiana), and steroidal (Veratrum-type) alkaloids. Clinically, effects on animal production vary from minimal feed refusal to abortion, birth defects, wasting diseases, agalactia, and death. There are marked species differences in reactions to alkaloids. This has been attributed to rumen metabolism, alkaloid absorption, metabolism, excretion or directly related to their affinity to target tissues such as binding at receptor sites. In spite of alkaloids reputed bitter taste to livestock, some alkaloid-containing plant genera (e.g., Delphinium, Veratrum, Astragalus, Oxytropis, and Lupinus) are often readily ingested by livestock. Management schemes to prevent losses are usually based on recognizing the particular toxic plant, knowing the mechanism of toxicity, and understanding the temporal dynamics of plant alkaloid concentration and consumption by livestock. Once these aforementioned aspects are understood, losses may be reduced by maintaining optimal forage conditions, adjusting grazing pressure and timing of grazing, aversive conditioning, strategic supplementation, changing livestock species, and herbicidal control.
    • Animal health problems caused by silicon and other mineral imbalances

      Mayland, H. F.; Shewmaker, G. E. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Plant growth depends upon C, H, O, and at least 13 mineral elements. Six of these (N, K, Ca, Mg, P, and S) macro-elements normally occur in plants at concentrations greater than 1,000 mg kg(-1) level. The remaining micro-elements (B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn) normally occur in plants at concentrations less than 50 mg kg(-1). Trace amounts of other elements (e.g., Co, Na, Ni, and Si) may be beneficial for plants. Silicon concentrations may range upwards to 50,000 mg kg(-1) in some forage grasses. Mineral elements required by animals include the macro-elements Ca, Cl, K, Mg, N, Na, P, and S; the trace or micro-elements Co, Cu, Fe, I, Mn, Mo, Se, and Zn; and the ultra-trace elements Cr, Li, and Ni. When concentrations of these elements in forages get 'out of whack' their bioavailability to animals may be jeopardized. Interactions of K x Mg x Ca, Ca x P, Se x S, and Cu x Mo x S are briefly mentioned here because more detail will be found in the literature. Limited published information is available on Si, so we have provided more detail. Silicon provides physical support to plants and may reduce susceptibility to pests. However, Si may have negative effects on digestibility and contribute to urinary calculi in animals.
    • Anti-quality components in forage: Overview, significance, and economic impact

      Allen, V. G.; Segarra, E. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Although recognized in importance from the dawn of history, forages have too often been underestimated and undervalued perhaps in part because animal performance has frequently failed to reflect apparent forage quality. Anti-quality components, diverse impediments to quality, have evolved as structural components and as secondary metabolites. They include mineral imbalances or can be related to the presence of insects and diseases. Animal behavior and adaptation are increasingly recognized as important aspects of anti-quality factors. An anti-quality component may reduce dry matter intake, dry matter digestibility, or result in nutritional imbalances in animals. They can act as a direct poison compromising vital systems, result in abnormal reproduction, endocrine function, and genetic aberrations, trigger undesirable behavior responses, or suppress immune function leading to increased morbidity and mortality. The economic impact of anti-quality factors on individual herds can be devastating but definable. Broadscale economic impacts of anti-quality factors are far more difficult to estimate. A loss of 0.22 kg/day in potential gain of stocker cattle due to anti-quality factors during a 166-day grazing season translates into a loss of about 55/steer at 1.45/kg or over 2 billion annually when applied to the U.S stocker cattle. Economic losses to tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) toxicosis in the U.S. beef industry are probably underestimated at 600 million annually. Reproductive and death losses of livestock due to poisonous plants have been estimated at 340 million in the 17 western states alone. These examples of economic losses due to anti-quality factors may be upper bounds of actual losses but even if a small proportion of the expected losses were eliminated through research, the potential payoff would be extremely high.
    • Anti-quality effects of insects feeding on rangeland plants: A review

      Campbell, J. B. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      The anti-quality effects of the major groups of insects that utilize rangeland plants for food is discussed. The biology, ecology, geographical distribution and economic thresholds of grasshoppers, crickets, Western harvester ants, ranch caterpillars, big-eyed or black grass bugs, and white grubs are reviewed. Also discussed are practical pest management strategies if they exist. Most of these rely on the integration of good range management practices and the control strategy.
    • Anti-quality factors associated with alkaloids in eastern temperate pasture

      Thompson, F. N.; Stuedemann, J. A.; Hill, N. S. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      The greatest anti-quality associated with eastern temperature pasture grasses is the result of ergot alkaloids found in endophyte-infected (Neotyphodium ceonophialum) tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) The relationship between the grass and the endophyte is mutualistic with greater persistence and herbage mass as a result of the endophyte. Ergot alkaloids reduce growth rate, lactation, and reproduction in livestock. Significant effects are the result of elevated body temperature and reduced peripheral blood flow such that necrosis may result. Perturbations also occur in a variety of body systems. Planting new pastures with seed containing a "non-toxic" endophyte appears to be a potential solution. Ergotism results from the ingestion of the scelerotia of Claviceps purpurea containing ergot alkaloids found on seed heads. Ergotism resembles the effects of endophyte-infected tall fescue. Endophyte-infected perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) contains ergot and lotirem alkaloids that result in reduced growth and tremors. Reed canarygrass (Phalaris Anundinacba L.) contains tryptamine, hordenine and gramine alkaloids that reduce growth. Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiplorum L. may contain galls with cornetoxins which result in neurological signs.
    • Effects of proanthocyanidins on digestion of fiber in forages

      Reed, J. D. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      The ability of proanthocyanidins (PA) to form insoluble complexes with proteins and polysaccharides affects fiber digestion and analysis. This review discusses these effects in relationship to the application of the detergent system of forage analysis. A fraction of the PA in plants remains after extraction for analysis. Insoluble PA may be a natural part of the plant cell wall or may be insoluble because of high molecular weight and post harvest reactions. These reactions increase the amount of insoluble PA and decrease the amount of soluble PA. The butanol-HCl assay is the most suitable method for analysis of insoluble PA. Insoluble PA are associated with negative apparent digestion coefficients for acid-detergent lignin (ADL), neutral-detergent insoluble N and acid-detergent insoluble N. The addition of sodium sulfite to neutral detergent eliminates insoluble PA from NDF. However, the addition of sodium sulfite to neutral detergent will give misleading results in relationship to true digestibility of protein. The difference between fiber fractions that are prepared with and without the addition of sodium sulfite to neutral-detergent may estimate the amount of PA/protein complex associated with NDF. A better understanding of the relationship between PA structure and function is necessary to manipulate PA in forages through breeding or genetic engineering. The interaction between PA and fiber analysis and digestion is an important component of this research.
    • Herbivore response to anti-quality factors in forages

      Launchbaugh, K. L.; Provenza, F. D.; Pfister, J. A. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Plants possess a wide variety of compounds and growth forms that are termed "anti-quality" factors because they reduce forage value and deter grazing. Anti-quality attributes can reduce a plant's digestible nutrients and energy or yield toxic effects. Herbivores possess several adaptive mechanisms to lessen the impacts of anti-quality factors. First, herbivores graze selectively to limit consumption of potentially harmful plant compounds. Grazing animals rely on a sophisticated system to detect plant nutritional value or toxicity by relating the flavor of a plant to its positive or negative digestive consequences. Diet selection skills are enhanced by adaptive intake patterns that limit the deleterious effects of plant allelochemicals; these include cautious sampling of sample new foods, consuming a varied diet, and eating plants in a cyclic, intermittent, or carefully regulated fashion. Second, grazing animals possess internal systems that detoxify or tolerate ingested phytotoxins. Animals may eject toxic plant material quickly after ingestion, secrete substances in the mouth or gut to render allelochemicals inert, rely on rumen microbes to detoxify allelochemicals, absorb phytochemicals from the gut and detoxified them in body tissues, or develop a tolerance to the toxic effects of plant allelochemicals. Understanding the behavioral and metabolic abilities of herbivores suggests several livestock management practices to help animals contend with plant anti-quality characteristics. These practices include offering animals proper early life experiences, selecting the appropriate livestock species and individuals, breeding animals with desired attributes, and offering nutritional or pharmaceutical products to aid in digestion and detoxification.
    • Lignin and fiber digestion

      Moore, K. J.; Jung, H. J. G. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Lignin is a polymer formed from monolignols derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway in vascular plants. It is deposited in the cell walls of plants as part of the process of cell maturation. Lignin is considered an anti-quality component in forages because of its negative impact on the nutritional availability of plant fiber. Lignin interferes with the digestion of cell-wall polysaccharides by acting as a physical barrier to microbial enzymes. Lignification therefore has a direct and often important impact on the digestible energy (DE) value of the forage. There are a number of plant-related factors that affect lignification in individual plants and plant communities. Lignification is under genetic control and there are considerable differences in lignin concentration and composition among species and even genotypes within species. Genetic differences in lignification are first expressed at the cellular level and are affected by biochemical and physiological activities of the cell. As cells differentiate, differences in lignification occur depending on the tissues and organs being developed. Lignification tends to be most intense in structural tissues such as xylem and sclerenchyma. Plant organs containing high concentrations of these tissues, such as stems, are less digestible than those containing lower concentrations. The relative proportion of lignified tissues and organs typically increases as plants mature so there is often a negative relationship between digestibility and maturity. All of these plant processes respond to environmental factors that can affect the extent and impact of lignification. Temperature, soil moisture, light, and soil fertility can have either direct or indirect effects on lignification. The most useful management practices for minimizing the negative effects of lignification are manipulation of the plant community such that it contains more desirable species and harvest management to maintain plants in a vegetative stage of development.
    • Review of toxic glycosides in rangeland and pasture forages

      Majak, W. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Ruminants are a diverse group of mammals, both domestic and wild species, that exhibit microbial fermentation prior to gastrointestinal activity. During the digestive process, glycosides and other natural products are exposed to ruminal microorganisms and metabolised as substrates. Most compounds are converted into nutrients but some become toxic metabolites. At least 10 types of toxic glycosides occur in forage species. Glycosides are characterized by the presence of one or more sugars linked to the alcohol or thiol functions of the non-sugar portion of the molecule, which is called the aglycone. The biological activity of the glycoside is usually determined by the chemical nature of the aglycone. The aglycones are released by microbial enzymes and may undergo further enzymatic or non-enzymatic transformations to yield toxic metabolites that can be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Microbial detoxification of the aglycone is also possible. Further biotransformation of the aglycone can occur in the liver. A review is presented on glycosides that are toxic to ruminants. The discussion covers aliphatic nitrocompounds, cyanogenic glycosides, cardiac glycosides, saponins, glucosinolates, diterpenoid glycosides, bracken glycosides, calcinogens, phenolic glycosides and ranunculin. Clinical signs of poisoning and treatment of livestock as well as management strategies for the prevention of poisoning are considered.
    • Structural anti-quality characteristics of range and pasture plants

      Laca, E. A.; Shipley, L. A.; Reid, E. D. (Society for Range Management, 2001-07-01)
      Structural anti-quality characteristics are physical plant traits that reduce the performance and productivity of herbivores and quality of their agricultural products. Most structural anti-quality characteristics of plants affect the rate at which herbivores gather and ingest forages, reducing the total amount of food obtained or increasing the time necessary to obtain food. Structural anti-quality can substantially influence searching time (e.g., plant crypticity, distribution), cropping time (e.g., plant fibrousness, tensile and shear strength), and bite size (e.g., plant canopy structure, spinescence). Plant structural characteristics can also reduce digestion (e.g., silica), cause injury (e.g., spines, awns, burrs, calluses), or reduce the quality of animal products, such as wool (e.g., propagules). The effects of structural antiquality characteristics depend on the morphology of the herbivore, especially its size, the morphology of the focal plant, and their context within the habitat. Integrated grazing management plans should consider options to reduce the negative effects of structural anti-quality. Carefully selecting appropriate livestock species with previous experience, and the appropriate season of grazing can minimize anti-quality on rangelands. Because structural anti-quality may actually promote sustainability of grazing systems by preventing severe defoliation, or by providing refuges for highly desirable forages, it may not be desirable to completely counteract their effects.