Zearalenone and Premature Lactation in Exported Dairy Cattle

Project Code:  W.LIV.0286

Year Published: 2015

Premature lactation is a significant problem in dairy heifers exported from Australia by long-haul sea voyage due to devaluation or rejection of consigned animals as unfit for purpose by importers in destination countries.

This project studied the risk factors that lead to the occurrence of premature lactation which are poorly understood, particularly the hypothesis that exposure of exported dairy heifers to mycotoxins such as zearalenone in pelleted ship rations could contribute to premature lactation of dairy heifers.To explore this hypothesis, feed rations on board ships transporting dairy heifers were tested for the presence of a panel of mycotoxins, including zearalenone.

The project found no significant contamination by mycotoxins was found in the feed samples collected and recommended that further work be undertaken to provide more substantial information about the incidence of premature lactation so that subsequent feed testing, or other investigations, can be more closely focussed on likely risk factors.

Keywords: Dairy, On-board/transport, Disease, Transport, Fodder

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