Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
The non-protein amino acid L-canavanine can adversely affect utilization of the amino acid arginine in intact feed proteins. Canavanine is stored by many leguminous plants as part of their chemical barrier against predation and disease-causing organisms. The canavanine becomes incorporated as a substitute for arginine in newly produced proteins, making the final proteins nonfunctional. It has a toxic effect on monogastric animals, especially chickens.