Lan­tana warn­ing for landown­ers

Farm­ers urge landown­ers to clear weed, as hun­gry cows grow des­per­ate in drought

Isis Town and Country - - FRONT PAGE - By MELINDA BRAD­FORD

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”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

TOXIC DIET: Sev­eral of Tom and Donna Dun­can’s cat­tle have suf­fered from lan­tana poi­son­ing.

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