Sulfur toxicosis in cattle caused by corn gluten feed
Keywords:sulfur, sulfur toxicosis, PEM, polioencephalomalacia, corn gluten, animal pathology, case reports, cattle feeding, clinical aspects, diets, feed intake, fodder, gluten feed, maize, poisoning, therapy, thiamin, toxic substances, toxicity, vitamin B complex
An outbreak of sulfur toxicosis, with clinical signs and pathologic diagnosis of polioencephalomalacia (PEM), occurred in a case-lot of 150 crossbred, mixed-gender beef calves in northeast Georgia during May and June of 2009. Sixty head of cattle were clinically affected during a four-week period, with 35 of 60 cases resulting in death. Samples of feed, forage, and water were submitted for nutrient analysis. Sulfur concentration was 0.82% (8240 ppm) in the total mixed ration (TMR). Analysis of individual ration components revealed a sulfur concentration of 1.25% (12,500 ppm) in the corn gluten feed (CGF), while water samples had low sulfur concentrations (3.8 ppm). The sulfur content of the TMR was more than twice the maximum tolerable concentration of 0.40% of diet dry matter for cattle. Treatment was attempted with parenteral thiamine/B-vitamin complex and supportive care, with response rates reported as poor. The TMR was reformulated to non-toxic sulfur concentrations by reducing the percentage of CGF in the diet, reducing the daily feed intake, and offering supplemental forage, resulting in cessation of clinical cases.