Lantana warning for landowners
Farmers urge landowners to clear weed, as hungry cows grow desperate in drought
FARMERS are warning fellow cattle owners to be aware of lantana poisoning, after their hungry livestock ate the toxic weed in lieu of other food during the drought.
Childers couple Tom and Donna Duncan said several of their cattle had been exposed to lantana with devastating consequences.
Toxins from the weed had caused their livestock to become highly sensitive to sunlight, resulting in inflamed and irritated skin and, in some cases, the cattle suffered liver damage.
“We watched them going around the fence line, just going mad,” Mrs Duncan said.
“It was horrible to watch them suffer. It’s not very pretty watching this happen.
“They were trying to get their head out of the sun. It attacks their liver, apparently, for a start.”
Mr and Mrs Duncan believed the drought was to blame, due to a combination of a lack of vegetation for livestock to consume and an increase in the toxicity levels of the lantana seed pods.
The Duncans were able to save a number of their cattle by ensuring they were kept undercover and covering them in calamine lotion, and have cleared as much lantana from their property as possible.
They are urging others to be mindful of the danger.
“The message is, if you’re getting cattle in, get rid of the lantana,” Mrs Duncan said.
Isis Veterinary Services vet Dr Duncan Smith said lantana poisoning was common in the district, particularly in times of drought when the animals were desperate to feed.
“Usually the animals never touch the stuff, but in times of drought, or when animals are introduced to other paddocks, that tends to be when we see it,” Dr Smith said.
“It’s more common than we see.”
Dr Duncan said symptoms were anything from rashes to liver damage.
“It has rather distinct clinical signs – damage to the nose and the ears,” he said.
“It’s nasty and can be rapidly fatal as well.”
Dr Duncan said there was no specific antidote available, but said if an animal was mildly affected they could be dosed with charcoal.
He also recommended affected animals be kept out of sunlight.
“Animals need to be kept in the dark – keep them inside during daylight hours and outside at night to graze,” he said.
“Mildly affected cases will come right. Serious cases progress to death rapidly”
TOXIC DIET: Several of Tom and Donna Duncan’s cattle have suffered from lantana poisoning.