Tel.+49 30 838 62261 Fax.+49 30 838 62512
The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of feeding Fusarium toxin-contaminated wheat to dairy cows on nutrient utilization in the rumen and on duodenal flow of deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZON) and their metabolites. Six dairy cows fitted with a large rumen cannula and a simple T-shaped cannula at the proximal duodenum was used in two experiments. The experiments included a control period in which the uncontaminated control wheat was fed and a period in which the control wheat was replaced by the Fusarium toxin-contaminated wheat (8.05 and 7.15 mg DON/kg and 0.26 and 0.1 mg ZON/kg in Expts 1 and 2 respectively). The wheat portion of the daily ration amounted to 50% on a dry matter (DM) basis and rations were completed with hay or grass silage. Five of the six cows were non-lactating and the total daily DM-intake ranged between 4 and 12 kg. The pH-values and the concentration of volatile fatty acids in ruminal fluid were not significantly influenced by feeding the contaminated wheat. In contrast, the postprandial ammonia concentration was consistently higher when the mycotoxin-contaminated wheat was fed. Moreover, the flow of microbial protein and utilizable protein at the duodenum were reduced at the same time. The concentrations of DON and ZON and of their metabolites in freeze-dried duodenal digesta were either not detectable or negligible during the control periods whereas distinct concentrations were measured during the periods where the contaminated wheat was fed. DON was nearly completely metabolized to de-epoxy-DON and the flow at the duodenum ranged between 4% and 28% of DON-intake. The ZON metabolites alpha-zearalenol (ZOL) and beta-ZOL were recovered at the duodenum beside the parent toxin ZON. Their recovery as a percentage of ZON-intake ranged between 43% and 132%. In conclusion, feeding of Fusarium toxin-contaminated wheat altered the ruminal protein utilization. The question of whether this effect was a result of the mycotoxin being present in the rumen or of Fusarium growth-related structural (cell wall) changes of the wheat grain needs to be clarified. The low recovery of DON at the duodenum would indicate either a nearly complete degradation of the molecule in the rumen or an absorption by the mucosa of the rumen, whereas the higher ZON recovery would suggest a lower degradation of the parent toxin in the rumen and/or recovery of some bile-originating entero-hepatic cycling ZON/metabolites.