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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Vicine and convicine in common vetch (Vicia sativa) seeds enhance beta-cyanoalanine toxicity in male broiler chicks.

Two studies were conducted to investigate the effects of feeding raw and water-soaked vetch seeds to male broiler chicks on performance, organ weights, and blood parameters. Intact and ground vetch seeds were soaked in water (1:5) at room temperature for 24 hours (study 1), and (1:10) at 40 degrees C for 24, 48, and 72 hours, with water change every 12 hours (study 2). In study 1, untreated vetch contained, on dry matter basis, 0.530%, 0.731%, and 0.081% total beta-cyanoalanine (BCA), vicine, and convicine, respectively. Toxins were not appreciably reduced in soaked intact and ground vetch. Diets containing untreated, soaked intact, and soaked ground vetch, each at 0%, 20%, 40%, and 60%, were fed to 7-day-old male broilers until onset of neurotoxicity symptoms. Survival time was not only decreased by BCA level but also by those of vicine and convicine (p <.05). In study 2, 60% of untreated or treated vetch seeds were incorporated in chick diets. Although untreated vetch used in this study contained 32% less BCA but 8% and 81% more vicine and convicine, respectively, yet, the chicks on 60% untreated vetch showed toxicity symptoms earlier than those of study 1. Soaking ground vetch for 48 hours or more reduced BCA and totally removed vicine and convicine. Consequently, birds on 60% ground vetch soaked for 48 and 72 hours survived through the starter period and had mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration and organ weights comparable to those of control at 4 days post trial. The results indicated that "high levels" of vicine or convicine or both might have shortened the birds' survival time by enhancing the neurotoxicity induced by "lower levels" of BCA.[1]


  1. Vicine and convicine in common vetch (Vicia sativa) seeds enhance beta-cyanoalanine toxicity in male broiler chicks. Farran, M.T., Darwish, A.H., Uwayjan, M.G., Sleiman, F.T., Ashkarian, V.M. International journal of toxicology. (2002) [Pubmed]
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