Blue Ribbon Cattle

Championship Cattle, Functional Females

Toxic Nightshade

May 2, 2016

If you are a livestock owner, chances are that you have had to pull weeds and toxic plants out of your pastures and paddocks at some point.  This lovely little plant below is  the nightshade plant.  It is toxic to cattle and should be pulled and not allowed to grow in your pastures. It grows throughout most of the state, but livestock generally won't consume enough to cause problems unless they're forced to eat it. Unfortunately,one expert said he knows of case after case where this has happened. The most recent case he remembers was a couple of summers ago when cattle were penned in a water lot and about the only thing to eat was the nightshade with its green and yellow berries. The cattle were left in the pen overnight, and the next morning were shaking, hyperexcitable, down and dead."The bottom line is that rancher lost like 25 to 30 cows."The toxic agent is solanine and the leaves and fruit are poisonous at all stages, but the ripe fruits have the highest concentration of the toxic agent. It is poisonous to horses, sheep, goats, cattle and even humans, but sheep and goats are more resistant than cattle. Nightshade poisoning causes central nervous system problems. Symptoms are incoordination, excessive salivation, labored breathing, progressive weakness or paralysis, and nasal discharge. It can also cause gastrointestinal problems like nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Affected animals should be moved as little as possible and should be fed good quality hay and water.

Situations conducive to poisonous plant ingestion include:

overgrazing of pastures (most significant)

lack of suitable forage in periods of drought

incorporation of toxic forbs in hay or greenchop.

unpalatable plants becoming palatable and acceptable when frosted or sprayed with herbicide.

Livestock introduced to new pasture often eat anything within immediate reach, including toxic plants.

Not all plants often cited as “poisonous” are unpalatable, and they do not always kill or otherwise harm animals when consumed. In most cases, animals are affected only when they consume too much of the poisonous plant.

 

 

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