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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: LIVESTOCK LOSSES FROM ABORTIFACIENT AND TERATOGENIC PLANTS Title: A note on averting goats to a toxic but palatable plant, Leucaena leucocephala

Authors
item Gorniak, Silvana - CEPTOX
item Pfister, James
item Lanzoniz, Elaine - CEPTOX
item Raspantini, Ester - CEPTOX

Submitted to: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 19, 2007
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Repository URL: http://www.pprl.ars.usda.gov
Citation: Gorniak, S.L., Pfister, J.A., Lanzoniz, E.C., Raspantini, E.R. 2008. A note on averting goats to a toxic but palatable plant, Leucaena leucocephala. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 111, No. 3-4, pp. 306-401.

Interpretive Summary: Conditioned taste aversions are a useful tool to reduce livestock consumption of toxic plants. The forage legume Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena) is both toxic and palatable. Adult and juvenile female goats, naïve to leucaena, were divided into control and averted groups. Animals were exposed to leucaena, and time(s) spent eating leucaena was measured. Aversive conditioning in adult and juvenile goats was successful in greatly reducing, but not entirely eliminating goats’ consumption of leucaena. The partial, but not absolute, aversions eventually extinguished as animals sampled leucaena with no negative gastrointestinal feedback. These results suggest that aversive conditioning alone, while useful to reduce risk of chronic and fatal intoxications will not solve toxic plant problems when the target plant is very palatable.

Technical Abstract: Conditioned taste aversions are a useful tool to reduce livestock consumption of toxic plants. The forage legume Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena) is both toxic and palatable. The objective of this study was to determine if goats could be aversively conditioned to avoid leucaena. Adult and juvenile female goats, naïve to leucaena, were divided into control and averted groups. Animals were exposed to leucaena, and time(s) spent eating leucaena was measured. During initial conditioning with lithium chloride (LiCl), averted goats spend less time eating leucaena that did controls. The averted groups maintained their reduced consumption of leucaena compared to controls during open field tests when goats could chose between leucaena and sugar cane. In final tests (two tests per week), averted goats reduced the amount of time(s) they spent eating leucaena compared to control animals, but the aversion eventually extinguished. Aversive conditioning was successful in greatly reducing, but not entirely eliminating goats’ consumption of leucaena.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014