Ruminal motility, reticuloruminal fill, and eating patterns in steers exposed to ergovaline

Gyuchul Ahn, Kara Ricconi, Suelen Avila, James L Klotz, David L Harmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fescue toxicosis is problematic for growing steers, causing lower DMI and productivity when fed endophyte-infected (E+) tall fescue. A complete understanding of underlying mechanisms of how fescue toxicosis affects growing steers is lacking. Therefore, the overall objective of this multiexperiment study was to determine whether ruminally dosed ergovaline (ERV) affects rumen motility, rumen contents, and eating patterns. In Exp. 1, an 8-h period to assess ruminal motility began 4 h after feeding by monitoring pressure changes using a wireless system for 21 d. Eight ruminally cannulated steers (283 kg BW) were pair fed with alfalfa cubes (1.5 × NEm) and assigned to endophyte free (E-; 0 μg ERV/kg BW/d) or E+ treatment (20 μg ERV/kg BW/d). Overall, E+ steers had more frequent rumen contractions (Seed P = 0.05 and day of feeding P = 0.02). On days 7 to 9, both treatments showed lower frequencies and E- steers had greater amplitude of contractions (P < 0.001) that corresponded with decreased DMI. In Exp. 2, steers remained in pairs assigned in Exp. 1 (322 kg BW), but reversed seed treatments while increasing ERV levels (titrated 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 μg ERV/kg BW/d over 57 d). There were no differences between E- and E+ for frequency (P = 0.137) or amplitude of contractions (P = 0.951), but increasing ERV dosage, decreased frequency (P = 0.018) and amplitude (P = 0.005), coinciding with lower DMI. In Exp. 3, 8 steers (589 kg) were pair fed and ruminally dosed 15 μg ERV/kg BW/d, and rumen motility data were collected for 21 d. E- steers showed higher amplitude and lower frequency of contractions than E+ steers with seed (P < 0.001), day (P < 0.001), and seed × day (P < 0.04) effects, but rumen fill was not different between E- and E+ (P > 0.29). Serum prolactin concentrations were lower in E+ steers in Exp. 1 to 3. Eating patterns of pair-fed E- and E+ steers were relatively slower in E+ than E- (Exp. 4) by measuring every 2 h across 24 h. Number of meals were higher in E+ than E- steers, but meal duration and meal size were not different between treatments. Rumen content (DM%) tended to be higher in E+ than in E- when steers were fed once a day (P = 0.07), but there was no difference for rumen content (DM%) when E- and E+ steers were fed 12 times a day (P = 0.13). These results suggest the changes in rumen fill associated with fescue toxicosis may be driven more by changes in feeding behavior and eating pattern rather than by changes in motility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Animal Feed/analysis
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Digestion
  • Eating
  • Endophytes
  • Ergotamines/adverse effects
  • Feeding Behavior/drug effects
  • Festuca/chemistry
  • Male
  • Medicago sativa/microbiology
  • Plant Poisoning/veterinary
  • Prolactin
  • Random Allocation
  • Seeds/microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ruminal motility, reticuloruminal fill, and eating patterns in steers exposed to ergovaline'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this