Livestock producers in outer South West Sydney are being warned to watch for signs of plant toxicity in their animals following several fatal poisonings in the region.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services District veterinarian Dr Aziz Chowdhury said he had responded to calls for assistance from a local producer near Camden after a young heifer suddenly died.
“Investigations revealed the cause of death to be heart failure caused by the consumption of the plant mother-of-millions (Bryophyllum spp),” he said.
“Ingestion of the toxins can be cumulative and livestock eating small amounts several times within a few days can suffer poisoning. Eating about 5 kg of mother-of-millions will kill an adult cow. Eating a large amount, as we saw in this case, can cause death instantly.”
Dr Chowdhury said livestock needed to be treated within 24 hours of consuming the plant.
“Look out for signs such as diarrhoea, usually with blood in the faeces, heart arrythmia, difficult breathing, or if they suffer a collapse. Horses can also show signs of abdominal pain (colic),” he said.
“If you notice any of these signs, you should seek veterinary assistance immediately.”
Dr Chowdhury said poisoning commonly occurred between May and October when the plants are were in flower.
“Mothers-of-million plants (pictured above) are frequently seen in the Greater Sydney region growing in lighter soils along roadsides resulting from dumped garden waste.
“They are also commonly seen as ‘escapees’ from abandoned gardens on rural properties.
“Cases of toxicity occur mainly over winter and are most often seen in introduced cattle or those unfamiliar with the plants.”
A lack of adequate food supply can also be an issue.
“Pastures that have been overgrazed or overstocked can predispose livestock to eating anything they can. Producers should evaluate their pastures to determine if adequate forage exists before introducIng livestock on to the paddock,” he said.
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