Some plants are toxic to livestock

By Gary Sliworsky, Ag rep, Emo

The following is the latest “Horse News and Views,” which is prepared by Dr. Bob Wright, Animal Health and Welfare, OMAFRA, in co-operation with the staff and researchers of the University of Guelph.
The monthly column highlights research topics, extension resources, reminders of common poisonings, disease, or production concerns, and coming events, and is placed on our website.
Poison ivy (Toxicodenron radicans) is a perennial shrub. It contains the highly-irritating, allergic, phenolic compound named urushiol.
Animals are rarely affected by poison ivy, but can spread it to humans from their contaminated hair.
Urushiol is soluble in alcohol but not soluble in water. As such, wiping with an alcohol cloth is a better method of decontaminating the hair coat than using water.
Occasionally, geldings exhibit stallion-like behaviour and owners question whether they have a retained testicle (otherwise known as cryptorchid, rigling, or rig).
Your veterinarian, with the aid of the laboratory, can help to differentiate between castrated males and cryptorchids by evaluating the increase in serum testosterone concentration when stimulated with human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG).
Plants of the brassica family, which include kale, rape, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard, are toxic to livestock.
Brassicas contain a number of toxic chemicals, including glucosinolates, which are present in young growing plants and seeds at the highest concentrations.
When consumed, they can cause goiter, hypothyroidism, poor growth rates, and reproductive failure.
Glucosinolate metabolites also can cause colic and diarrhea.
Herbicides may be required to control mustard from contaminating hay and pasture fields in the first year after seeding.
For further information, contact Dr. Bob Wright at 1-519-846-3412 or visit

Dates to remember
•July 29–Rainy River Soil & Crop Association farm tour, 11:30 a.m. (start at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market in Fort Frances); and
•July 29–Emo research station open house, 7 p.m.

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