Be aware of toxic feed says LLS vets

Coast producers flag poison plant concerns

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Red Lantana will kill cattle or at best predispose them to sunburn. Livestock new to an area can make the mistake of eating this.

Red Lantana will kill cattle or at best predispose them to sunburn. Livestock new to an area can make the mistake of eating this.

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Cases of toxic plant poisoning is up in North Cattle as LLS vets remind producers to be aware of signs.

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Cattle producers on the North Coast are reporting increased cases of plant poisoning, as hungry mouths look for alternative feed.

Parts of the region have enjoyed a bountiful crop after rains returned in March but there remain plenty of places with too little soil moisture after a tough summer.

"Plant poisoning usually occurs when cattle are introduced to unfamiliar surroundings containing toxic plants or when other feed is scarce, and animals go in search of the green pick," said district veterinarian, Dr Liz Bolin.

Common plant poisonings on the North Coast include Bracken fern, Red lantana, Mother of millions, Green cestrum and Oleander.

Bracken fern among the bladey grass.

Bracken fern among the bladey grass.

Signs will vary depending on the plant. Indications a cow may have eaten bracken fern include black tarry faeces and pale gums.

Cattle with red lantana poisoning may display shade-seeking behaviour, whereas stock with oleander, mother of millions or green cestrum poisoning die suddenly, often without the owner seeing any signs. Livestock owners should contact their veterinarian.

For those who received rain, nitrate poisoning may be a risk. Nitrate levels can be high in some pasture species, especially when rain follows a dry period and when nitrogen fertiliser has recently been applied.

Cases of nitrate poisoning have also occurred where cattle have been fed hay high in nitrates. When supplementary feeding it is important to introduce new feeds slowly

"When buying in feed we recommend, producers request a commodity vendor declaration, which provides information about residue risks," said Dr Bolin.

"Cattle should be up to date with 5 in 1, or 7 in 1 vaccination, and if feeding silage consider vaccination against botulism."

The Chilean native Green Cestrum, also known as mortal nightshade, can kill without warning, just like Mother of Millions.

The Chilean native Green Cestrum, also known as mortal nightshade, can kill without warning, just like Mother of Millions.

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