Eek. Sheep have eaten hemlock

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9 years 4 months ago #499273 by LongRidge
MCPA kills hemlock (and docks, mallows, storksbill, thistles, nettle, foxglove) really well, but does not deal to ragwort. If you have ragwort too, use Grazon rather than MCPA.

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9 years 4 months ago #499277 by katieb
how are they this morning? I would have called the vet afterhours

Animals rule our place... cows, calves, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks... the list goes on
...."lifestyle block like" 25 or so acres around the house attached to a rather large farm with dairy drystock & a 600 cow dairy conversion :)....1500 acres to call home

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9 years 4 months ago #499280 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Eek. Sheep have eaten hemlock
Katieb, I dont think vets cant do much for poisoning of ruminants.
But I would also have called an after hours vet just to satisfy myself that its correct

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9 years 4 months ago #499281 by newbie_nix

LongRidge;504926 wrote: MCPA kills hemlock (and docks, mallows, storksbill, thistles, nettle, foxglove) really well, but does not deal to ragwort. If you have ragwort too, use Grazon rather than MCPA.

Thanks but we manage our pastures organically. It pulls quite easily but this was just a patch that managed to hide from me.

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9 years 4 months ago #499282 by newbie_nix

katieb;504930 wrote: how are they this morning? I would have called the vet afterhours

Fine this morning. In the end I called a friend who is a sheep expert. She suggested they would probably be fine but to watch for signs of salivation, restlessness or anything else 'weird'.

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9 years 4 months ago #499284 by Andrea1
Glad they're ok. 8 ) Goats browse hemlock often, but I know their metabolism is different (faster) to sheep. It's just when it's wilted that it can really cause problems, as far as I know. I have a goatie friend who used to let her goats eat down her 'hemlock hillside' every spring/summer in Waipara, and she had a lot of those goats for many years, and no issues from the hemlock.

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9 years 4 months ago #499285 by Andrea1
From wikipedia page for Hemlock. I would think your sheep have probably not eaten enough to harm them, as it sounds like it happens pretty fast if it's going to happen.

Eight piperidinic alkaloids have been identified in Conium maculatum. Two of them, gamma-coniceine and coniine are generally the most abundant and they account for most of the plant's acute and chronic toxicity. These alkaloids are synthesized by the plant from four acetate units from the metabolic pool, forming a polyketoacid which cyclises through an aminotransferase and forms gamma-coniceine as the parent alkaloid via reduction by a NADPH -dependent reductase.
Poisonurl="http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Conium_maculatum&action=edit&section=5"]edit[/url

Conium contains the piperidine alkaloids coniine , N-methylconiine , conhydrine , pseudoconhydrine and gamma-coniceine (or g-coniceïne), which is the precursor of the other hemlock alkaloids. [2] [4] [5]
File Attachment:
Chemical structure of coniine

Coniine has a chemical structure and pharmacological properties similar to nicotine . [2] [6] Coniine disrupts the workings of the central nervous system through action on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors . In high enough concentrations coniine can be dangerous to humans and livestock . [5] Due to high potency, the ingestion of seemingly small doses can easily result in respiratory collapse and death. [7] Coniine causes death by blocking the neuromuscular junction in a manner similar to curare ; this results in an ascending muscular paralysis with eventual paralysis of the respiratory muscles which results in death due to lack of oxygen to the heart and brain. Death can be prevented by artificial ventilation until the effects have worn off 48–72 hours later. [2] For an adult the ingestion of more than 100 mg (0.1 gram) of coniine (approximately 6 to 8 fresh leaves, or a smaller dose of the seeds or root) may be fatal. [8]

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9 years 4 months ago #499300 by newbie_nix
Thanks Andrea :) I am very relieved they are all fine this morning. I saw that article too last night and baulked a bit at the suggestion that 6-8 fresh leaves could be fatal.

But given no symptoms have appeared, I reckon they must have all have had a nibble at some point as if it was just that one lamb that stripped those 6 plants that would have been more than 8 leaves. Either that or perhaps its less toxic this time of year.

I am surprised they sought it out as we are awash with grass at the moment - no shortage of other, sheep friendly, stuff to eat and that paddock is flanked by poplar and willow hedges which they love getting stuck into as well. I wonder if it was a bit of self medicating for parasites... I finished doing FECs this morning and the lambs have a moderate count (which I expected for their age and time of year). I will be drenching later today.

Thanks all. Rest assured, I kept checking them until late at night (yawn). If I had seen the faintest hint of a symptom I would have called the vet, but with zero symptoms and not knowing which of the others had consumed it, I doubt there would have been much the vet would have done other than tell me to keep an eye on them. I didn't want to tie up the out of hours service unnecessarily.

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9 years 4 months ago #499302 by katieb

muri;504933 wrote: Katieb, I dont think vets can do much for poisoning of ruminants.
But I would also have called an after hours vet just to satisfy myself that its correct


activated charcoal can be given to absorbe the toxin, ive used it on goats that someone let out

Animals rule our place... cows, calves, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks... the list goes on
...."lifestyle block like" 25 or so acres around the house attached to a rather large farm with dairy drystock & a 600 cow dairy conversion :)....1500 acres to call home

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9 years 4 months ago #499318 by EV
Replied by EV on topic Eek. Sheep have eaten hemlock

Tui Ridge;504914 wrote: Hemlock can become more palatable when it has wilted. When it is fresh it is very bitter and acrid but once it starts dying (if it has been poisoned or cut) the bitterness is gone but the poison components are still there so there is more chance of stock nibbling it

This. It's not that it's more poisonous when it has wilted, but that it is more palatable and thus likely to be eaten. The same with a lot of poisonous plants (and why townies throwing garden trimmings over the fence as a "treat" for stock is a real hazard).

I found our lambs nibbling something this spring ... perhaps foxglove? and they didn't show any adverse affects, thankfully! (Obviously removed lambs from that paddock then removed foxglove.) There's only a few plants e.g. yew that are so very poisonous to cause death from a few mouthfuls.

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9 years 4 months ago #499321 by Andrea1

EV;504974 wrote:
I found our lambs nibbling something this spring ... perhaps foxglove? and they didn't show any adverse affects, thankfully! (Obviously removed lambs from that paddock then removed foxglove.) There's only a few plants e.g. yew that are so very poisonous to cause death from a few mouthfuls.


EEK! THat is a scare. I had put our doe kids in the back yard area which was knee high the grass going to seed, and let them have at it. There's not anything poisonous growing back there. But just as I was wondering what the doe kid just chomped down, I realised it was foxglove! It was a small plant, and that was 2 weeks ago, and it hasn't slowed her down one bit.

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9 years 4 months ago #499329 by kate
Replied by kate on topic Eek. Sheep have eaten hemlock
We have lots of foxglove and our goats do nibble at it with no bad effects that we've seen. Yes, of course we're trying to get rid of it but they're big paddocks and the foxglove really likes seeding under rocks etc :(

Web Goddess

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9 years 4 months ago #499332 by cowvet
I keep a poisons book in my truck. Most vets have one within easy access.

Generally with most poisons the sooner you do something then the more likely you are to be successful and limit their effect....waiting for signs of poisoning before you start doing something about it (ringing the vet) is not a good idea. By this time the toxin has obviously been absorbed and all we can try and do is manage the effect of the toxin rather than try to limit its absorption by removing or neutralising it

My advice...
get accurate advice as soon as you suspect an ingestion of poison. DO NOT wait for clinical signs to appear to confirm your suspicions.

My experience....
animals nibble on different toxic plants all of the time. Poisoning is dose rate dependent and some plants are more toxic than others. Some plants cause cumulative damage over time so a little bit often may not appear to harm them but does do damage over time.

MOST poisonings I have experienced usually involve hungry animals on restricted feed...either outright starved because there is nothing else but the poisonous plant to eat, or being break fenced so that just think they are starving and eat inappropriate poisonous plants that are available (classic macrocarpa poisoning usually occurs in this situation....finish their daily break of feed and head to the hedge to satisfy their hunger/boredom)

Hemlock
most poisonings occur in spring
Toxicity : all parts of the plant are poisonous but much of the toxicity is LOST on drying
Signs: rapid respiration, excessive salivation, diarrhoea, muscular weakness and trembling, convulsions, death
Treatment: usually fatal, purgatives, tannic acid to neutralize alkaloids...(ie, once signs of poisoning appears there's not much you can do as the above suggestions are about limiting absorption rather than actual treatment of poisoning)


I love animals...they're delicious

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