Brachiaria spp. poisoning of ruminants in Brazil

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Riet-Correa,B. ; Castro,M.B. ; Lemos,R.A. ; Riet-Correa,G. ; Mustafa,V. ; Riet-Correa,F. (2011)
  • Publisher: Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA)
  • Journal: (issn: 1678-5150)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1590/S0100-736X2011000300001
  • Subject: saponinas litogênicas | progressive weight loss | perda progressiva de peso | SF600-1100 | resistance | lithogenic saponin | foamy macrophages | fotosensibilização | resistência | macrófagos espumosos | photosensitization | Brachiaria spp. | Veterinary medicine | resiliência | resilience

Brachiaria species are the most important grasses for cattle production in Brazil. However, a limiting factor for the use of Brachiaria spp. is their toxicity. Most outbreaks of hepatogenous photosensitization are caused by B. decumbens; however B. brizantha, B. humidicola and B. ruziziensis can also cause poisoning. The poisoning affects cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo. Sheep are more susceptible than other animal species and the young are more susceptible than adults. There are differences in susceptibility among animals of the same species and it has been suggested that this resistance is genetic. Also has been suggested that buffalo and probably some sheep are resilient, i.e. when poisoned these animals have histologic lesions and high GGT serum concentrations, but do not show clinical signs. In general, saponin concentrations are higher in growing plants, but outbreaks occur all over the year, probably due to unexplained rise in saponin concentration in the plant. A clinical syndrome of progressive weight loss and death, without photosensitization, has been reported in cattle poisoned by B. decumbens. Main preventive measures are based on the selection of resistant or resilient animals and on the development of Brachiaria species or varieties with low saponin concentration.