By Dr. Ron Clarke, Canadian Cattlemen – The Beef Magazine
Plant poisoning is a common problem throughout North America, causing significant losses from sudden death, reproductive failure, poor growth rates, tainting of animal products (milk, meat) and physical damage.
Recognizing toxic plants and understanding the effects of toxins on animals is an important aspect of good range management. Plant poisoning can be largely avoided.
Plants contain a variety of toxic compounds that deter herbivores and insects. Dr. Anthony Knight, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences, Colorado State University, in his paper Poisonous Native Range Plants, uses milkweed (Asclepias species) as a classic example. Milkweed contains a milky sap that is an irritant and therefore distasteful but is also poisonous.
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