Beware of livestock eating poisonous plants

A post in AgriLife Today about a workshop on managing poisonous plants in pastures motivated me to write a more general article about poisonous plants for livestock in the region. Poisonous plants typically grow in pastures, but during periods of normal weather, livestock usually leave them alone.

However, during periods of drought, as edible grasses wilt or dry up, plants that livestock don’t usually eat start to look promising. If you keep any type of animal that typically grazes, and you’re in an area that isn’t getting much rain, now is the time to start scouting for poisonous plants. Management techniques range from using herbicides to leading animals to areas away from the poisonous plants. If you’re not sure which plants are poisonous, the list of websites below may help with identification.

There are several websites that list poisonous plants for people and livestock in various regions. Some of them also include management recommendations. Below is a list of some of the regional websites:

Plants Poisonous to Livestock – Cornell University: Although some of the species on this list are indigenous to the Northeast, several species can be found throughout the East Coast.

Plants Poisonous to Livestock – Florida A&M University: This PDF file gives photographs and details of the 36 most common plants poisonous to livestock in the South. The page also provides illness symptoms and how toxic the plant is.

Plants Poisonous to Livestock in the Western United States: Don’t let the “Western United States” part of the title fool you into thinking this publication is not for you if you live in another region. This publication includes recommendations for management and an explanation about how to use herbicides. The document was published by USDA Agricultural Research Service.

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