Pre­vent lead poi­son­ing on pas­tures

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - FARM NEWS - Al­berta Agri­cul­ture

Be­fore in­tro­duc­ing an­i­mals to a new pas­ture, check for ev­i­dence of dis­carded or aban­doned bat­ter­ies.

“Dis­carded bat­ter­ies that have gone through sev­eral freeze-thaw cy­cles and no longer have in­tact cases are the most dan­ger­ous,” says Dr. Joe Ken­dall, vet­eri­nary tox­i­col­o­gist with Al­berta Agri­cul­ture and Forestry. “The lead plates are ex­posed and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by the an­i­mals.”

He says that young calves are par­tic­u­larly at­tracted to the taste of lead and will ac­tively seek it out.

“Cattle that have con­sumed toxic lev­els of lead will ex­hibit seizures and sud­den death. They may ap­pear blind and wan­der aim­lessly. Cattle that have con­sumed smaller amounts of lead will ap­pear nor­mal, but the lead lev­els in the body will make the meat and milk un­safe for hu­man con­sump­tion un­til the lead has been elim­i­nated. An­i­mals that have died from lead tox­i­c­ity must be safely buried to pre­vent lead tox­i­c­ity in wildlife.”

Dr. Ken­dall adds that most cases of lead ex­po­sure and poi­son­ing in cattle that have been re­ported to the Of­fice of the Chief Pro­vin­cial Vet­eri­nar­ian have oc­curred in cattle graz­ing on pas­ture.

“Lead ex­po­sure or poi­son­ing, along with other tox­ins, must be re­ported to the Of­fice of the Chief Pro­vin­cial Vet­eri­nar­ian. It is im­por­tant to re­duce the risk of con­tam­i­na­tion of pas­ture and farm­land with lead and to be dili­gent about keep­ing an eye out for any signs of buried bat­ter­ies or other sources of lead.”

Aban­doned and dis­carded bat­ter­ies are usu­ally found around aban­doned ve­hi­cles and farm ma­chin­ery, old dumps and dis­posal sites, home­steads, out­build­ings and along fence lines.

If the bat­ter­ies have bro­ken open, it is im­por­tant to do a thor­ough job clean­ing up not only the lead plates but also the soil around the bat­tery.

Used lead acid bat­ter­ies should be safely dis­posed at col­lec­tion sta­tions across the prov­ince. Go to Re­cy­cling Coun­cil of Al­berta to find the near­est lo­ca­tion to dis­pose spent lead acid bat­ter­ies.

File photo

Beef pro­duc­ers need to be watch­ing their cattle for any signs of prob­lems.

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