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Vet Res Commun. 1986 Mar;10(2):125-41.

The effect of thiaminase-induced subclinical thiamine deficiency on growth of weaner sheep.


Three experiments were performed to examine for causes of poor growth of young Merino sheep. Weekly testing of animals 42 weeks of age for 10 weeks revealed that 90% of clinically poor animals were excreting high levels of thiaminase in their faeces; low levels of activity were present in 20% of clinically normal animals. There were significant differences in the mean erythrocyte transketolase activity of the thiaminase excreting poor animals and the thiaminase free normal animals. Other known causes of poor growth could not be demonstrated. Weekly monitoring of thiaminase activity in the faeces from 80 lambs 6 weeks of age showed 23% to be excreting significant levels of enzyme (greater than 3mUg-1 DM) throughout a 10 week test period. Mean growth rates of these lambs were significantly below those of lambs not excreting thiaminase or excreting low levels intermittently. Supplementation of thiaminase excreting lambs with intra-muscular injections of thiamine HCl was associated with a statistically significant improved growth rate (P less than 0.01) compared to unsupplemented sheep excreting thiaminase. Mean growth rates of lambs not excreting thiaminase on a continuous basis (sampled weekly) were the same with or without thiamine HCl supplementation. High thiaminase levels were found in the ruminal fluids of trial animals excreting the enzyme in their faeces, confirming this previously established association. Bacillus thiaminolyticus was isolated from faeces and ruminal fluids from clinically poor animals and is the most likely source of the thiaminase. Subclinical thiamine deficiency was indicated by low erythrocyte transketolase activities and elevated TPP effects and is proposed as the cause of the poor growth by the young sheep.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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