Facts ergot alkaloids:ergot

  • Oldest known mycotoxicosis: Epidemics of ergotism occurred frequently in the middle ages
  • Fungi grow on the ovary of the plant and form the scletoria
  • 40 different ergot alkaloids exist
  • Ergots are particular common in rye and triticale, but can affect all cereals and grass
  • Effects e.g.:
    • Narrowing of blood vessels
    • Impairment of gut health
    • Sows are most sensitive to ergot alkaloids (e.g. lower milk production & aborts
    • Distortion of perception
    • The drug LSD is an ergot alkaloide

Attention: Critical amounts of ergot alkaloids were found in the middle of Europe in the last harvest 2020

EU-Legislation: A max. content of 1 000 mg/kg (0,1%) sclerotia of unground cereals is defined in feed production.

Uncertainty: the sclerotia can contain different amounts of toxic ergot alkaloids, therewith the physical identification alone is often not adequate.

On the basis of current state of knowledge, the DVT (Deutscher Verband Tiernahrung) published orientation values in 2019 for critical concentrations of total ergot alkaloids (sum of all analyzed individual alkaloids) in the daily ratio.


Orientation value (mg/kg)

   Piglets, Fattening Pigs




Ruminants and sheeps (all categories)






   Laying hens


   Peking dugs


Source: Stellungnahme der Carry Over-Arbeitsgruppe zu Ergotalkaloiden und Mutterkorn in Futtermitteln und deren Auswirkungen auf die Tiergesundheit vom Agust 2019, 12.08.2019. Published by DVT