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Stock Poisoning Plants

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Date:  September 13, 2021
Agent:  Damon Pollard

Good morning. This is Damon Pollard with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service – Burke Center. Today’s program is on stock poisoning plants.

In the fall of the year, we all enjoy the changing colors of the leaves, but the changes in those leaves are more than just cosmetic. In some species, the process of leaf sugar breakdown includes a dangerous step or two.

For example, wilted wild cherry leaves contain cyanide and cyanide is deadly on cattle. The same thing happens when the leaves turn colors and fall. Cyanide is produced and remains until the leaf turns completely brown. The scarlet maple also produces toxins as its leaves turn colors. This toxin doesn’t seem to bother cattle but it’s very toxic to horses.

Frost causes johnsongrass and sudan grasses to produce the toxin prussic acid. Farmers should not allow stock to graze these grasses until they have dried and turned brown.

The tannin in acorn nulls causes kidney failure. If you have heavy acorn drop, some cows will eat enough to kill themselves. For some reason, other cows will simply munch a few and then walk on. Why certain cows like acorns so much is a mystery.

Fall is a beautiful time of year but livestock owners need to be aware that some of that beauty is deadly.

This is Damon Pollard with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service – Burke Center. For more information on today’s program, you can call me at 764-9480.