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July 9th, 2012
By Clif Little
Red maple poisoning can result from livestock consuming wilted leaves of fallen trees. Dried leaves have been reported to remain toxic for up to thirty days. The cause of toxicity is not clearly understood however, the primary effects are acute hemolytic anemia, methemoglobinemia, and Heinz body formation in the red blood cells. Symptoms develop three to four days after ingestion and may include rapid breathing and heart rate, weakness, depression, cyanosis and brownish discoloration of blood and urine.
The black locust tree contains several toxic compounds found in the sprouts, leaves, bark, flowers, and seed pods including a glycoside (robitin) and phytotoxins (robin and phasin). Affected animals may exhibit signs of depression, diarrhea, weakness, posterior paralysis, pupil dilation, weak pulse and rapid, irregular heartbeat.
Our state tree the buckeye tree can and does make cattle sick each year. Cattle readily consume fallen buckeyes. Toxicity is attributed to glycosides and possibly alkaloids. Sprouts and leaves may also be poisonous. Animals exhibit depression, incoordination, twitching, paralysis and inflammation of mucous membranes. If caught quickly treated animals usually survive.
One of the most deadly shrubs to livestock is the yew. Yews are flat needled evergreen shrubs, with a bright red fleshy cup-shaped berry. The leaves bark, and seeds contain alkaloids that affect the nervous system and are toxic green or dry. Poisonings often occur when clipping are accessible to livestock. Symptoms include gaseous distress, tremors, diarrhea, convulsions, dilated pupils, weakness and respiratory difficulty.
Combine summer drought with high winds and broken trees and we have the perfect storm for livestock poisoning. Clean pastures and hay fields of these potentially harmful trees. Provide additional feed and or hay when forage grazing is limited and consult your veterinarian if you suspect poisoning.
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