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Poisonous & Harmful Plants:
Plants & Trees:
poisonous trees or shrubs
hang the fence line animals can nibble at
Goats will easily lean against the trunk,
or the garden fence to reach the
Animals have been
when trimmings have been
discarded over the garden fence.
Some plants remain poisonous
even thought they are "old and dried".
Make sure pet lambs, or kids don't have access to poisonous plants
if kept in the garden area.
Plant Finder website:
photographed below are for identification only...
It is NOT a complete list of poisonous plants
All parts of the oleander are poisonous even when dried.
All parts of this tree are toxic.
It contain a substance which can stops the heart beating!!!.
Often the animal is found dead. If your animal eats YEW .. There is really nothing that can be done other
than calling the vet, and getting surgery done. ie open the rumen and remove all
traces of YEW.
eating Rhododendron the animal may remain ill for several
The animal may kick at its stomach. (kicking at the stomach is an
indication of pain.)
It may vomit. (Perhaps the only reason that an animal may
It may have difficulty breathing. Usually the animal will survive.
LABURNUM (GOLDEN CHAIN TREE)
All parts of this plant are poisonous.
The pods and seeds are very toxic.
Signs and symptoms include: Neurological symptoms, (excitement,
convulsions, and this is followed by death.)
YES: Eating laburnum is usually fatal. The vet may administer a sedative
to minimize the nervous signs
and this can allow the animal to expel the toxins from it's body.
It eaten in large quantities. These can be poisonous to animals.
parts of the plant are poisonous. Animals have been poisoned by eating the seeds.
Signs and symptoms: There may be some neurological signs and symptoms, flowed by a
coma, then death.
Hemlock has been blamed for birth defects in young animals.
can cause irreversible changes in the liver.
The animal (after eating it) may not show symptoms for some time, until suddenly changes appear. The abdomen becomes
swollen. The animal appears very dull.
This is irreversible. These is no cure. The animal should be culled.
Normally animals avoid ragwort. They don’t like the taste.
If ragwort is in
hay the animal may NOT recognize it’s unpalatable taste, and eat it.
Animals may eat bracken when feed is scarce.
The fresh plant is not particularly palatable to animals. It has been known
be caught up in hay, where the taste is more palatable. Bracken can cause
scouring, with blood in the faeces.
t can cause severe anaemia because of a thrombocytopenia. (a deficiency in thrombocytes essential for blood coagulation)
plants that are poisonous/toxic to ruminants..
(Maryland small ruminant page)
common poisonous plants in Eastern & southern USA:
"what the ruminant has eaten":
Moldy hay and moldy silage:
Has caused abortions in late pregnancy.
This is a
If your hay or silage looks
"suspect" DON'T take the risk. DON'T feed it to in calf cows. (You can
try feeding it to your steers, or bulls.)
births/abortions in cattle.
Well fed animals seldom "choose" to feed
Problems occur when animals eat cuttings, or bits of
branch or leaves that have arrived in their feed.. by the wind, or tossed
over the garden fence.
Several trees are known to cause abortions, or premature births in late
Worse still cows often retain the placenta, which may lead to, endometritis
(uterine infection) , and a visit by the vet.
Fence off the offending trees.. But if living in a windy area, be aware that twigs,
leaves and branches may be carried into the pasture by the wind.
An outbreak of abortions in a dairy herd was attributed to bits of macrocarpa
having being caught up in the hay when the hay was made.
Even in a "dead state" clearly macrocarpa leaves can still cause abortions/premature births.
(Pinus ponderosa Laws (USA)
A cross between the monterey cypress and
the Alaskan Cedar.
It was a popular tree, and planted for shelter and it's rapid growth.
It joins the list
of trees that can cause abortions.
( macrocarpa cupressus)
is a well
known abortionogenic in cattle, and possibly deer.
There are many macrocarpa shelter belts in
(NZ cattle DO need shelter from wind, and cold weather.)
Pine tree needles: (I'm told)
Have also been blamed for causing abortions in cattle.
(I don't know what species of pine are responsible.)
Lead based paint: .
New paint may cover the old lead paint. Ensure that animals cant have access to
Worse: Ashes from timber with old lead
based paint on it: There is a suggestion
that a lead content will remain in the ashes.
Insecticides, herbicides, rat poison, slug bait, petrol.
Cattle have been known to 'sample' these.
This has mainly occured when cattle (in
particular) have managed to get into a farm building..
The cattle were curious, and possibly hungry. Their tongues can flip open (some)
hooks, and bolt catches.
They can knock over a
drum, thus spilling the contents over the floor.
These can be fatal to children also. They need to be keep
them under lock and key.
Bloat occurs because of the fertilizers used today". - ( ( totally False ) ).
occurring for centuries !!!
A book printed in 1850 has this to say about
Hoven, or Bloating: – This often follows the feeding of large
quantities of green fodder.
Clover, and alpha alpha (Lucerne)
contribute to the problem.
Before modern farming times:
Any sign of cattle bloating the farmer would chase the animal to
encourage it to burp.
(an interesting sight.)
One elderly farmer I spoke to reckoned his cows would position themselves facing
up a hill so they could burp more easily.
Actual numbers of deaths from bloat is always vague, because the rumen naturally
bloats up after the animal has died
The Normal Ruminant digestion:
Ruminant digestion involves micro-organisms which are needed to digest fibrous
During digestion these micro-organisms
produce large quantities of gas.
The gas needs to be burped/eructated, and so
frequent burping is an essential part of the digestion.
Cattle burping is usually unnoticeable, and yet it happens roughly once a
minute, increasing to 3 or more times each minute at peak times.
In bloat the distention of the rumen by gas, or other contents, interferes or
halts the normal burping process.
It is at the non reproductive stage (before and after the pre flowering stage)
that legumes in pasture are most likely to cause bloat..
(alpha alpha (or Lucerne ) & clover are the common legumes)
Some farmers blame lush grass also.
Spring is the main time of year when bloat is a danger.
when the weather: moisture, heat, cool evenings:
Farmers have been taken completely by surprise with the sudden occurrence of
bloat in their animals.
*If you have a bloated animal, talk about it.. tell neighbouring farmers, so they
can take precautions with their stock.
There is a suggestion that some animals eat mainly the legumes in the
pasture, rather than a mix of grass & legumes.
Ensure that on heat cows are protected from bloat. A cow actively on heat may eat very little. She may make up for this later
by gorging great quantities of lush pasture.
|The predisposition to bloat seems to be inherited so there is merit in not breeding from animals that bloat easily.
If you cull any frequent "bloaters" You'll get cash rather than finding a corpse
in your paddock.
In a given paddock, a few animals in the herd will bloat, and the others won’t.
Feeding out hay prior to releasing animals into lush pasture has been used as a
method to reduce bloat.
If you’re using small bales, some drench solution could be applied to the cut
side of the bale.
Putting hungry animals onto lush pasture should be avoided. Some opt to transfer
their animals to a fresh paddock in the afternoon after their stock
has had a
“good feed” in the morning.
Reducing the proportion of legumes isn’t a good idea. Legumes are a
valuable source of protein and some minerals.
- Bloat Treatments:
There are many on the market, and these are available from your vet and farm
There are various solutions available and different ways to have it available
for your stock:- drench, trough treatment, block, capsules etc.
If you drench your animals:
This way you KNOW the animal has had sufficient
Other methods of giving cattle anti foaming agent are good. But you cannot be
100% sure they have received the treatment.
Read and obey the instructions on the wrapping.
(Usually bloat prevention is
continued through spring until the legumes reach their flowering stage.)
* * Rumensin users:
It does give some bloat control, but it should NOT be relied upon to give 100%
Can take farmers by surprise!!!
Some farmers start their precautionary methods prior to severe bloat conditions,
and others wait until they presume the
conditions and pasture could cause bloat. Autumn is the season where farmers have been taken by surprise.. and in big
commercial herds this has meant the loss of several animals.
Tell neighbours, &
other farmers if you've had bloat in your herd. (You would have appreciated being aware of the likelihood of bloat yourself.)
TREATMENT for a bloated animal:
Usually the container of anti-bloat solution has instructions re drenching a moderately bloated animal.
(if you have some solution.)
Alternatives: Use the vegetable oil from you kitchen. (It must be a vegetable oil, and not a
Administer about 200mls of a vegetable oil. Use a narrow necked bottle for administering,
it will be easier to maneuver.
(Some farmers reckon they've had good
results by giving beer for mild bloat.)
< You can’t miss severe bloating. !!! They’re out like a huge balloon.
The left side in particular is huge and it is rounded from her spine to her
The Right side is extremely bulged out also. Tap this bulge, and it responds
like a drum.
The animal appears uncomfortable
and it is gasping for breath. The tongue protrudes.
THIS is now an
If you have your cell phone on you RING YOUR VET NOW.
It may take too long for a vet to get to you while the animal is in this
Get instructions from the vet, and stay in touch with the vet.
(While you’re phoning the vet you could
be heading for the house to get a bloat
knife, or even a sharp, preferably sharp ended knife.)
Carry all sorts of things with them in the container
on their bikes/quads:
(Notebook & pen, pliers, twine, and perhaps a *Trocar and
cannula, or a bloat knife. )
(* The cannula is a metal sleeve that fits over the trocar (trocar: the spear
part of the duo).. The hollow cannula stays in place
in the animal while the trocar is removed. This allows gas and gunk to escape.)
The alternative of not taking the next step will be DEATH from asphyxiation,
and the heart will fail, and this is due to the huge pressure of the rumen against vital organs.
you do not have a trocar and cannula, or a bloat
knife. Use a very sharp knife. (One with a sharp pointed end.)
You're going to have to stab your animal.
The sharp knife, (or assembled trocar and cannula together), need to be “plunged” into
Left side, somewhere between the ribs and the pelvis (basically, where the
swelling is the greatest.)
(If using a knife, Place you’re thumb over the blunt end so the knife doesn’t
slip and cut you. You’ll need to make a cut also.)
The response can be dramatic, with an explosion of escaping gas, and gunk.
You may have to clear out some of the frothy gunk yourself by hand.
Contact the vet again..
Anti foaming agents are often added to the rumen to reduce frothing.
will administer antibiotics, and suture up the animal.
It is less severe in sheep than in cattle.
It is always wise to vaccinate against clostridial disease (5-in-1) before sheep
go out onto lush spring pasture, because
bloat may occur with pulpy kidney.
There are anti bloat treatments for sheep.
Sheep can be sat on their butts, to rub their stomachs. They can take some
vegetable oil also.. This will encourage them to burp.
(ask your local vet.. they know the local soil
types: This site IS worth looking through.)
When feed is very short, buying in feed is an option. Feeding meal to your stock is one option. (There
or new feeds to the diet must be done
This is to allow the animals rumen to manufacture 'bugs' essential for the 'digestion' of
this new feed.
(Stock will need extra water because of the dryness of the feed.)
New grass has the potential to cause this:
Warm weather is a contributing factor in this group of diseases.
Zealand's weather is changing, and the conditions listed below are appearing out
of their usual geographical area...
Cattle and sheep with liver fluke appear unthrifty, and often have oedema around
the jaw line. The long life cycle of this parasite involves a tiny snail, plus a suitable
warm, wet environment (e.g. around springs, bogs) for the fluke eggs to hatch.
Treatment, Prevention: Liver fluke can be controlled by Fascinex 10. Damp areas can be drained, or
Facial eczema can occur in cattle, sheep and goats. The disease is caused by
toxins in the spores of a saprophytic fungus (Pithomyces chartum) which live in
dead vegetative material in pastures (esp ryegrass).
The fungal growth is enhanced by humid, wet, warm weather.
This is when spore levels rise rapidly. Animal livers damaged by the toxin
(sporidesmin) cannot properly metabolise phylloerythrin, and it accumulates in the
peripheral blood. This leads to a photosensitisation reaction in nonpigmented skin.
Infected animals become photophobic, and seek shade. Non pigmented areas of
the body(white areas) may become severely ulcerated, with the accompanying
symptoms of, itching, scabs, swollen infected areas, plus loss of appetite. Signs
and symptoms may not always be obvious... the animal may have subclinical facial
eczema. In a post mortems facial eczema livers are smaller, with much fibrous
Animals affected should have shade, cool water, and a good diet.
Prevention: Feed high levels of zinc BEFORE stock are at risk. Zinc is not a
Stock NEED shelter in hot & hot & muggy days.
Death from heat stress in NZ is
fortunately rare. Many animals show some of the signs of stress
in a very hot
especially humid sunny days. Black animals are prone. Fat cattle are more prone
than lean ones.
Visible symptoms include: Cattle seeking shade. They will align themselves with
the sun. They will breath with their mouths open. They may pant, and salivate.
Ruminant digestion heats their bodies..
SO your animals need COOL water to drink.
Give them a fresh paddock later on in the day when the temperatures are NOT SO
Heat stress can have longer lasting effects-
lowering their feed intake, their milk production. & breeding efficiency. -and
Shelter really is a MUST HAVE.
Seriously Consider planting trees for shelter and shade. Trees improve the 'look' of your
farm, and you gain the timber value. Deciduous trees, provide shade for stock, their
shade minimises evaporation in pasture they shelter over summer. Yet leafless in
winter their shade is minimal. The leaves in autumn contribute to the soils litter
layer, thus adding to soil health.
Nursing a sick animal:
Rumen fermentation provides warmth for the animal. You can also provide warmth by
covering a sick animal with a blanket or cover.
Food: Have water, grass, hay, or and molasses on offer.
the animal in a sitting position aids 'belching'. The heavy weight of the
animal can restrict circulation to its limbs. So position it in a natural sitting position.
In a cow the weight bearing hind leg (the foot part) should only just be visible under
the udder. Prop it up with a bale of hay if necessary.
Transporting sick cattle:
When faced with moving a sick animal that is unable to stand. Use either a sturdy
gate, or a couple of sheets of overlapped lengthwise roofing iron secured to timber
at the top and base. The plan is to use a rope to attatch it to the tractor, and to tow
this makeshift stretcher. Roll the animal onto the stretcher. Make sure limbs dont
collide with gateways. You may have to secure the animals head with a rope.
The Hospital Paddock:
It may be close to the house or shed for convenience. With a 'hospital paddock'
near a major road, consider the view motorists will get...
Animals stuck in mud:
Secure a chain and hook, or a rope (dont use a slip
knot) around the animals neck. Attach to the tractor. Gently pull the animal to safety.
Hoof Problems in Cattle:
Sometimes hoof problems are caused by injury e.g. sharp stones, nails, glass,
barbed wire (perhaps hidden amongst growing grass). A small stone, or a stick
may be lodged between the claws (just remove it). If there is an infection in the
hoof, to treatment let any pus out. Consider getting Vet assistance if inexperienced
with hooves.They can locate painful areas accurately, and with their experience
they can differentiate between healthy and non healthy tissue.
Examining a hoof: Immobilise the animal, in a crush, or a bail Use a rope handy to
elevate, and immobilise the animals leg.
Learn from your Vet: Ask them to explain what they are doing. Ask about
preventing hoof problems. The Vet may administer an antibiotic.
Cause: bacterial - often spread by introducing an infected sheep into the flock.
The bacteria causing footrot does not invade healthy hooves. Transmission of the
disease usually occurs in wet conditions.
Preventing the disease: Some farmers will send contaminated animals 'to the
A vaccination is available. Quarantine newly purchased sheep if concerned.
Romneys are footrot resistant.
Deep wounds: These are best stitched by a vet when they are very fresh.
If a wound contains pus, the pus must be 'let out' for the wound to heal.
Cleaning a small contaminated wound: Make up a solution 100mls of boiling
water, with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. You’ll need some cotton wool swabs.
Wipe over the area once, then discard the swab, repeat with a clean swab until
wound is much cleaner.
Clean fresh wounds: Spray the area with an iodine solution.
Clots in the milk, or a
hard, swollen section of your animal’s udder may be the clue that your animal
The udder may be sore when touched. She may be feeling unwell also.
Mastitis means: Inflammation of the mammary gland.
Some mastitis causing bacteria can be picked up “from the environment”: (dung,
mud, soil, water, & flies.)
Transfer from cow to cow, is common, especially in machine milked animals.
It can also be transferred from one quarter to another by a sucking calf.
Clotted milk can indicate a staphylococcal, or streptococcal infection, or the
severity of the infection. Strep & Staph infections are the most common types of
mastitis in New Zealand.
Nature provides the udder, the teat, and the teat canal with
protection from invading bacteria. But teats need care, so they can continue to
be a barrier to micro-organisms.
Provide a stress free environment for milking.
Cleanliness: Rinse after milking, and follow this by sanitizing the clusters
pipes, & lines after use.
“Detergents” are available from farm supply stores.
Machines care: The pulsation, the vacuum, and cup liners are important. These
influence the suction, or have contact with the teat.
Machines need checking ideally 6 monthly. Faults need to be quickly fixed.
By milking any mastitis cows last, you can avoid spreading the disease to other
Check on the mineral status of your animals.
The teat canal remains open for some time after milking..
Teat spraying with an antiseptic plus emollient solution (e.g. glycerine)
immediately after milking will help prevent bacteria entering the teat canal.
The addition of glycerine (or similar) enhances the teat’s skin health.
Use a sprayer that sprays upright, and aim at the teat opening. Then circle and
spray so the sides of the teats also get a covering.
The antiseptic spray kills bacteria on the teat ends so they cannot enter the
(Milkers can spray their hands with the solution also.)
Mix up new solution of spray daily.
Spray the teats throughout the milking season.
*Spraying is preferable to dipping teats in a solution, or using a cloth.
What happens in
Staphylococcal & streptococci mastitis is common in NZ. These bacteria invade
the deeper parts of the gland..
To “fight” the invading bacteria, blood flow to
the area increases, which produces the visible signs: heat & redness, swelling &
The small udder ducts can become blocked, and the affected alveoli
will no longer produce milk.
Should the blockage become permanent, (and they
can) this will stop antibiotics getting at the target.
The bacteria remain, and
are trapped inside like an abscess.
Some bacteria may leak, and infect other alveoli. She may also “leak” bacteria,
and this can spread to other cows.
These cases can be difficult to cure. Dry cow
therapy is recommended.
E Coli infections:
E coli infections can be picked up from dung.. (Not so common in NZ.)
It is ideal to have cows calve in clean pasture, away from cow “camp sites”
they shelter, and “empty out” during bad weather.
Signs and symptoms of an E coli infection vary dramatically.
Some cows have enough defences (neutrophils) to kill the bacteria off quickly.
But symptoms can range from a swollen painful quarter, to the animal being very
Call the vet if you have an ill feverish animal. She certainly won’t be eating.
The E coli releases toxins. Antibiotic treatment is usually started immediately.
Some quarters will need to be discontinued for the rest of the season, but they
will return to milking the next season.
A quick mastitis Test:
The RMT (Rapid mastitis test) or the Californian mastitis test.
Use a purchased reagent.. or just use the detergent you use for washing the
In a container.. add a squirt of cows milk from one quarter. Add a squirt of
detergent to the milk. Swirl these fluids around.
If this mixture thickens you know you have a quarter with mastitis..
This is the mastitis you have when the signs and
symptoms are obvious.
The signs are not obvious. The cow may have a high
somatic cell count.
In a RMT the combined milk and detergent will thicken.
Early detection & fast
action is needed when treating Mastitis.:
The sooner antibiotic therapy is commenced the better the result.
The vets will have a range of intra mammary antibiotics for sale. These will
properly treat the known bacteria that are common in your geographical area.
You may be faced with a decision: Which intra-mammary to choose? There will be a
price range. Some antibiotics have a different with holding period.
The aim is to treat the infection quickly, with an antibiotic appropriate for
(You can always take a sample of milk for culture & sensitivity prior to
starting the antibiotic. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours.)
- for Goat owners:
intra mammary “infusion”:
Read the label on the container..
Note: The withholding time.
Write on your notes the animals identification and the
day treatment commenced.
Milk the animal out first..
Gently cleans the end of the teat using cotton wool soaked with methylated
The tip of the antibiotic tube (once the cover is removed) is sterile..
Ensure it doesn’t touch anything, and is inserted directly into the teat
orifice... It can be a challenge with some animals!!
Milk mastitis animals last..
Identify the animal somehow as a “antibiotic cow” to minimize mistakes, (like
the milk going into the vat.)
Give the dose as stated..
There is no merit in doubling the dose.
Sometimes there are advantages of administering an antibiotic injections as well
as the intra-mammary infusion.
Ask the vet about a suitable antibiotic to use.
Use the same antibiotic for the course of the treatment.. Note the animals response..
If it is improving but clearly the infection is still there.. There may be merit
in continuing for several days more.
If there is no response to antibiotic treatment after several days, then use
BUT: Ask your vet for his/her advice.
*Switching drugs can lead
to bacterial resistance. (You cannot do a culture and sensitivity to see which antibiotic is most
appropriate now ..as the milk will have been contaminated by the 1st antibiotic
Using dry cow at drying off is recommended for animals who have had clinical
mastitis during the year..
Giving “dry cow antibiotic’s” immediately after the final milking of the season
will help “clean up any infections” from the last milking season, and prevent
infections during the dry period.
Dry cow therapy is certainly recommended for cows who have had obvious
infections during the milking season, and those with a high cell count.
The antibiotic is long acting.. it stays in the udder far longer.
Do not use on cows you are planning to cull..
it does have a much longer
Teat seal products are an option for cows with low cell counts, and who have NOT
had mastitis. These products seal the teat orifice, preventing bacteria from
Helpful sites re deer:
(also affects cattle and deer):
Signs and symptoms:
Scouring, (fluid like faeces) Ill thrift, then rapid emaciation. It is fatal.
Onset: Some deer may exhibit the symptoms before 12 months old.
Often stress will start the disease progressing.
It may live in the animals body
for years prior to the animal showing any symptoms.
Spread: It is spread by infected faeces. Often calves and fawns pick it up from
drinking from teats of infected mothers.
There is some possibility that it can
spread to other young animals.
Diagnosis, is by blood tests or faeces specimen.
There is no treatment: The only way to deal with the disease is elimination
of the animal with a positive blood or faeces test.
Causes: It is an eye infection, but dust, bright sunlight, flies and irritation (e.g.
thistles) may cause this condition. It is more common in summer and autumn. It can
spread from one animal to another.
Signs: 1st signs, tears streaming down the animals face. The animal blinks
frequently, then signs of an infection appear. Untreated this can lead to permanent eye
*Note: the animal may use only its 'good' eye (it will turn its head towards you). Its
sore eye may be hidden from your view. If you notice one animal with pinkeye, check the rest of the group.
Treatment: Antibiotic cream available from the vets. Apply as instructed.
Appearance of infected animal: The soft tissues around the mouth, including the
tongue are infected. The tongue becomes hard and swollen. The animal dribbles.
They are reluctant to eat.
What to do: Observe the animal closely, then phone the vet, or speak to the vet.
Describe the areas of swelling. He/she will prescribe a suitable antibiotic.
Treatment: This disease responds well to the appropriate antibiotic.
This infection appears from time to time. The organisms responsible are found in
tongue & lumpy jaw:
Parasitic & Clostridial diseases
are covered in the "preventable diseases" page:
Antibiotics kill only bacteria:
They do not kill viruses, or animal cells. Bacteria, are single cell organisms.
Once they get past the animals immune system they rapidly reproduce causing
Signs and symptoms of infection:
(pain, swelling, heat, redness) This means the body is working to destroy
Choice of antibiotic:
It is chosen because it is known to kill the bacteria causing a certain
infection. e.g. bovine uterine infections: Tetracycline might be used.
*Beware*: Antibiotics can kill bacteria indiscriminately, e.g. the
normal gut bacterial flora, which can happen if administering antibiotics to a
The correct amount: (and for weight and age) the correct route, and the correct
time, and for the prescribed length of time (e.g. 4 days).
If an animal has an adverse reaction to the antibiotic, do discontinue it. But:
By not giving the antibiotic for the correct number of days. (regardless if the
animals seems to have returned to health) Giving an incorrect doseage... you are
contributing to a superbug existence.
Superbugs are bacteria which are resistant to nearly all antibiotics. We
use antibiotics so frequently, and now some bacteria simply won't be killed by
some once-effective antibiotics.
Together in conditions encouraging bacterial growth (culture) are bacteria, and
samples of antibiotics. The bacterias response to the patches of antibiotic is
observed. If there is no bacterial growth near a particular antibiotic sample It
means the antibiotic is suitable for treating the disease... The bacteria is
sensitive to that bacteria.
Vaccinations prepare the immune system, so that the immunie systems are primed
to kill off invading pathogenes. Some vaccinations are given in late pregnancy
so the newborn has some immunity, or immunity is passed through colostrum e.g.
Cattle diseases: - General
Condition score of
cattle in relation to cattle diseases: