Mid-West producers are reminded to keep watch for the summer weed, crownbeard, which is toxic to sheep.
Department of Agriculture and Food Geraldton-based veterinarian Kevin Hepworth said the annual, Verbesina encelioides, was known to occur in an area from Dongara to Northampton.
Dr Hepworth said producers were advised to take care when grazing stock in paddocks where the weed was growing.
“The plant has bright yellow flowers similar to a daisy, green-grey foliage and is about 30-100cm tall,” Dr Hepworth said.
“When sheep eat the weed, it causes damage to the lining cells of blood vessels in the lungs which can lead to a large build-up of fluid in and around these organs.
“Consumption of very small quantities results in loss of appetite and lethargy but even consumption of as little as 200 grams by an adult sheep could lead to death.
“Sheep are mainly found dead but some sheep may show signs such as heavy breathing and frothing at the mouth and nostrils. Stock in early stages of disease may recover if handled quietly and supplied with good quality hay and fresh clean water.”
Dr Hepworth said stock with no previous exposure to the plant and with limited feed alternatives were most susceptible to poisoning by this plant.
“Sheep that have previously been exposed to this plant will seek other feed if it is available,” he said.
“Livestock owners should always check paddocks for toxic weeds and if these are prevalent move stock to other paddocks or provide other feed such as hay.
“Producers should always contact a veterinarian whenever unusual disease signs or unexpected deaths occur in their stock in order to rule out the presence of exotic diseases.”
Dr Hepworth suggested producers contact their local agronomist for advice on weed control options.
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