Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock - Western U.S.
by Shirley A. Weathers, Ph.d.
This field guide to poisonous plants in the western U.S. was designed by and for livestock owners to help protect against plant poisoning. Horses, cattle, sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats and swine are addressed.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 percent of cattle and over 3 percent of sheep in the western U.S. are killed each year by eating poisonous plants. But the problem is even more serious. In addition to deaths, plant poisonings also cause:
And besides cattle and sheep, horses, llamas, goats, alpacas and swine are also affected. Economic losses each year amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Experts agree that many occasions of plant poisoning are avoidable. Plant poisoning can be prevented, and effective response when it occurs may reduce suffering and harm and prevent death.
Effective use of good information about toxic plants coupled with ensuring access to safe feed are the best insurance against plant poisoning. Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock - Western U.S. compiles in over 240 pages key information from various resources to help livestock owners . . .
- identify over 100 western toxic plants
- consider animal, pasture and range management strategies
- spot symptoms of potential poisoning
- respond effectively when poisoning occurs
Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock - Western U.S. includes over 100 plants, shrubs and trees, organized by leaf shape/arrangement to facilitate identification throughout the growing season. It can be tucked easily into pack or back pocket, carried in your truck or kept handy in the barn. The following are provided to the extent known for each plant:
- A description (in lay language) of characteristics such as average plant size and leaf, flower, fruit, and seed appearance
- Full page line drawings
- Scientific, common and English family names
- Region and habitat
- Season(s) when consumption is dangerous
- Toxic part(s) of plant
- Special conditions affecting toxicity, e.g., frost or drought stress, drying (as in hay)
- Usual or possible physical/behavioral signs and effects of poisoning
- Basic supportive care and possible treatments
- Animal species known or suspected to be susceptible
- Amounts of plant material that may be toxic or lethal
There are also useful Appendixes with additional resources:
- Steps livestock owners can take to minimize the changes of poisoning
- Basic information about the poisonous principles at work in toxic plants and how they act on animals
- Cross-references to plants by major toxin(s) involved
- Toxic plants to watch for in hay, grain and processed feeds
- A list of over 100 ornamental plants that can sicken or kill livestock, pets and/or humans
- Cross-references to plants by flower color and leaf shape
Foreword by Dr. Peter R. Cheeke, Department of Animal Sciences, Oregon State University, author of Natural Toxicants in Feeds, Forages, and Poisonous Plants, Danville: Interstate Publishers, Inc., 1998.