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Livestock producers warned to check paddocks for toxic weeds

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 3. January 2018 - 11:45

Livestock producers have been encouraged to monitor paddocks and livestock over coming months for toxic plants and signs of summer weed poisoning, especially if further rainfall occurs.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has received reports of lesser loosestrife (Lythrum Hyssopifolia), as well as box poison (Oxylobium parviflorum) in the Great Southern.

Department veterinary officer, Andrew Larkins, said the reports were a good reminder to closely observe paddocks and stock.

“Low levels of feed on offer in some areas, coupled with summer rainfall could easily elevate the risk of toxic plants to livestock this year,” Dr Larkins said.

“It is important for producers to inspect paddocks for weeds prior to introducing livestock, as well as nearby bush and scrub areas, rock heaps and wet areas, which all provide suitable microclimates for toxic plants.”

Additional plants that could be at risk to livestock include caltrop (Tribulus terrestris), mintweed or goosefoot (Chenopodium pummilio) and native gastrolobium species, as well as some self-sown crop regrowth.

Dr Larkins said most poisonings could be avoided by ensuring stock are not hungry when introduced to a new paddock.

“Feeding livestock hay beforehand, particularly if they have been yarded or transported, ensures they have adequate gut fill to prevent the animals from gorging and also dilutes any potential toxic components from suspect plants,” he said.

Dr Larkins said it was important to continue to monitor stock for signs of summer weed poisoning, such as ill thrift, photosensitisation, weakness and sudden death.

“Livestock affected by toxic plants should be removed from the suspect paddock immediately,” he said.

“Move animals slowly and provide them with access to shade, fresh water and good quality hay.”

If producers notice any unusual signs in their stock they are encouraged to contact a department or private veterinarian to determine the cause and limit production losses. The information also aids market access disease freedom evidence.

Subsidised disease investigations are available through the department’s  Significant Disease Investigation Program, while more information about summer weeds, including spray options for lesser loosestrife, is available on this website.

Lesser loosestrife plant with purple flowers
Livestock producers have been reminded to inspect paddocks for toxic plants, like lesser loosestrife, and to continue to monitor animals for signs of summer weed poisoning.

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Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison                        

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