Friend lost 3 cows due to oak poisoning

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by TxMex, May 9, 2010.

  1. TxMex

    TxMex Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A friend of mine learned a very expensive lesson this week. He has some very high bred angus cattle from one of the local experimental college farms here, but more than that these were pets. He cleared some trees and pushed them up in a pile. The cows ate the oak leaves and were poisoned. He lost one bull in the back of the trailer at the vets. Also a mama cow due to calve and a heifer. They managed to save another heifer but not sure if she lives what the lasting effects might be.

    I have not heard of oak leaf poisoning before so I thought I'd pass this along. I've seen cows eat leaves before, so it must have something to do with the amount they ate.
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wild cherry and yews are poison, but I'd never heard about oak before. What kind of oak was it?
     

  3. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've heard of people deliberately cutting down oaks for cows. My goats love dried oak leaves.

    I think there are some leaves that turn toxic if they are hit with a frost or possibly by cutting the tree. Maybe that's what happened.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    It's true for cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. That applies to both acorns and leaves. Only pigs are immune. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak

    Martin
     
  5. cowbelle

    cowbelle Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about this...... In California, the cattle eat the live oak leaves, seedlings and acorns all the time - keeps them alive during droughts. Now, there has always been talk that the acorns can cause abortions, if consumed in too great amounts, but the leaves, just another forage. All the trees in a pasture will be straight across the lower edges of the branches, where the cattle eat as high as they can reach. Just another observation - I'm not a vet but I've sure seen many thousands of cattle eat oaks!!
     
  6. mpete

    mpete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Our animals eat oak all the time. I think it may have been the amount. Too much of any one thing can be bad. Sorry for your friends loss. I hope the other heifer makes a full recovery
     
  7. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    I've got about 30 acres of "pasture" that has oak sprouts that'll come out each spring. When the land was hand cleared in the 40's, the stumps weren't pulled, and they sprout back each year. Neighbor uncle has about 70 acres of the same... He runs cows on part of my place as well as his own 450 acres. He keeps cattle off the sprouting oaks and little shrubs, for about two months in the springtime... he lost one decades ago to oak poisoning, and learned his lesson. The rest of the year there isn't a problem.

    Goats are on those pastures... have been for 70 years, and haven't harmed any goats yet... only affect cattle around here.
     
  8. leon

    leon Well-Known Member

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    Our sheep love acorns and eat them all the time. They won't touch the leaves if they have any choice at all though. Somebody told me that the poison (tannins?) is kinda weak, so the animals need to eat a lot before it sickens them. May be some varieties of oak are worse than the other?
     
  9. 7thswan

    7thswan Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Aren't goats related to deer? Deer sure eat Acorns. We have Oaks all over here, never heard of this before, I'll ask some of the old guys, if they have.
     
  10. TxMex

    TxMex Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not sure what the specific requirements are for this to be deadly. Due to these being very valuable cows an autopsy was performed and the cause of death was confirmed as oak poisoning.

    Not sure why they ate the leaves. They are belly deep in fertilized pasture. My friend feeds em too much....we tease him about it all the time. They have rolls of fat over their tails. So it sure wasn't that they were hungry.
     
  11. EasyDay

    EasyDay Gimme a YAAAAY!

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    This is exactly our experience. It's the acorns with cattle. They can get too much tannin and go down. If your not there, they can die. Our 1-ton bull went down. DH couldn't get him to get up, so DH kept pretty much hand-feeding him hay and water, while he laid there. Couple of days and he made through. He would have died on his own. It most often happens in the fall.

    Could the tannin levels be different based on geographic area (environment)... enough to make the leaves toxic in other areas of the country?
     
  12. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    We gave oak motts in the cattle pasture.

    We cut oak browse for the goats when we can't take them on browse walks.
     
  13. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Our cows have always eaten both oak leaves and black cherry leaves with no problems. I think it was probably that they were cut and wilted that would up the tannin quite a lot. Sorry for his loss!
     
  14. I've also always heard that wilted leaves were bad .
     
  15. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    There are MANY species of oaks. Perhaps some are poisonous and others not so much. Check with an ag college to find out what is poisonous in your area.
     
  16. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm This Space For Rent Supporter

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    We have a winner!
     
  17. js2743

    js2743 Well-Known Member

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    never heard of oak killing any thing, but wild cherry will kill what ever eats it if it wilts and they eat it.
     
  18. TxMex

    TxMex Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Same here. That's why I posted this thread. Hope it will keep someone else from making the same mistake.
     
  19. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    Well it does look oak is bad for cattle and calves. Not so much for sheep or horses.
    Here is info from the University of Pennsylvania
    http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/poison/plants/ppoaks.htm
    Isn't the internet neat? And to have Google AS your best friend.
     
  20. PlowGirl

    PlowGirl Well-Known Member

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    WV Hillbilly and Bearfoot Farm are right on the money. It's the WILTED leaves that did the poisoning.

    Patt got it right too.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2010