UF FLORA IFAS EXTENSION
Poisonous Weeds in Pastures
Christa L. Carlson
Extension Agent II, Livestock
Many farmers and ranchers are aware of the plants in their pastures. Most are familiar with the
poisonous weeds that may appear from time to time. The truth is there may be poisonous weeds
in your pasture right now that you are unaware of.
Traditionally livestock will not eat weeds that are harmful to them. The livestock begin to snack
on these weeds when they are moved into a new area where there are plants present that they are
unfamiliar with. Just like humans, cattle are curious creatures. When they see something they
are unfamiliar with they are going to test it out. Other times that livestock will try poisonous
weeds rather than the green grasses may be in the fall after a frost or in the spring when plants
begin to green-up
Other situations where livestock will turn to a poisonous weed may be when animals are on
range land and there is a shortage of range for the animals to survive so they will turn to weeds
they normally would not eat.
Animals which are receiving rations that are not properly balanced for them may turn to harmful
plants and weeds in search of the nutrients they are not receiving. Therefore, it is important to
supplement minerals to animals where known deficiencies may occur.
Poisoning from plants or weeds often occurs when pastures are overgrazed or in times of a
drought. Overgrazing occurs from having excessive animals grazing on a particular piece of
land. During this time animals are looking for forages to meet their needs. When the grass isn't
present they turn to other forms of roughage. Some of which tend to be poisonous weeds.
Unfortunately, livestock may inadvertently consume poisonous materials through infected hay.
In most cases this occurs when the hay contains pieces of bracken fern or crotalaria. Other
situations are when the animals decided to eat plant materials on the other side of the fence or
through curiosity in a trash pile in the pasture.
Some of the more common weeds that livestock owners should be aware of are crotalaria,
lantana, pokeweed, bracken fern, and nightshade,. Many of these weeds are also used as
ornamental plants in landscaping or for butterfly gardening. Each is unique and has its own
characteristics to make them easy to identify.
Crotalaria is also known as showy crotalaria. The weed is
seldom found is very wet soils. Traditionally found in
fencerows, around buildings, or in an abandoned field.
Poisoning can occur in all classes of livestock. Some
symptoms that may be observed would be bloody feces, loss
of appetite, and yellowish discoloration of the visible mucosal
membranes along with gastric hemorrhage in horses.
Livestock may die two to nine months following ingestion of
the plant material with symptoms not showing up until 7-14
days prior to death. Once symptoms have developed animals rarely recover regardless of
Lantana is one of the common butterfly plants that can be found in
many garden sections of retail stores. Unfortunately, it is also an
Extremely toxic plant to cattle and sheep. Following ingestion of plant
material animals may show lesions on their skim if exposed to the
sunlight. Following exposure the skin will become hard, swollen,
S.-- cracked and painful. Many have described this as the hide pealing off
the animal. Other symptoms that may occur would be extreme
Weakness, bloody stool, loss of appetite, along with partial paralysis of
n vl-.o' the legs with death occurring within 3-4 days. Treatment for lantana
poisoning would be to keep infected animals in darkness or out of
sunlight with administration of soft laxatives. Affected skin areas should be cleaned and
disinfected with antiseptics and healing ointments. There is traditionally not a large recovery
rate once treatment begins.
Pokeweed can grow as tall as six feet in height. The stems are
smooth and green and purple in color. Berries on this plant are
purple-black in color. All parts of the plants are toxic to all
livestock. However, the berries and root are the most poisonous
i - portions of the plant. Symptoms of poisoning occur two hours
following ingestion of the plant. The infected animal will exhibit
gastric irritation with vomiting, purging, spasms and severe
convulsions occurring. Death is the result of respiratory organ paralysis. The suggested
treatment is administering bland oils and gelatinous foods.
Bracken Fern is most commonly found in open shady areas,
pastures, hammocks, and open woods. Toxicity can occur in cattle,
horses and chickens. Animals may inadvertently ingest bracken fern
through hay or bedding materials. Symptoms will traditionally
develop three to four weeks following material ingestion. Affected
animals usually have a high temperature, bloody feces, fast and
weak pulse, and labored respiration with death occurring within 48
hours of symptom onset. Treatment for bracken fern poisoning is to
administer saline purgatives or linseed oil, while keeping affected
animals in a quiet place. If treatment is administered early some animals will recover.
Common Nightshade is also known as black nightshade or deadly
-1 ,'.,-- '. nightshade. The stalk and leaves are green with contains white flowers
.with five petals and a yellow center. Ripe berries are purple or black when
rripe. Nightshade grows everywhere except close to salt water. The green
leaves and unripe berries are poisonous to all livestock species. Some
S '. symptoms which may appear would be weakness with a staggering gait,
extreme nervousness, and dilated pupils along with paralysis. Symptoms
occur rapidly and with infected animals traditionally found dead, there is
no known treatment.
As you can see there are many poisonous weeds that are found in pastures. The best prevention
of poisoning is to pull any weed in your pastures that you are unsure of. It is better to be safe.
Many people are unaware that most plants used in landscaping are harmful to animals. To
protect your investment be proactive and take the time to scan your pastures for weeds and
plants that do not belong there. You are the only one who can make a difference in your
Information obtained from Plants that poison farm animals by Erdman West and M.W. Emmel.
IFAS Bulletin 510A.
Ethics and Livestock Shows
Christa L. Carlson
Extension Agent II, Livestock
Many state and regional fairs are requiring that youth attend or become "certified" in livestock
ethics. In many ways it is difficult to teach youth about livestock ethics. This is due to each
individual person having his or her own set of ethics which were they developed as growing up.
Most people will say that you cannot teach ethics. In many ways this statement is true. If we
are not teaching ethics, how are the youth of today developing their own standards of ethics?
After teaching a portion of the Florida State Fair Ethics training it became evident to me that
everyone a youth comes in contact with will shape one's ethics. Of course, the people whom
one comes in contact with as well as the culture and region of the world he or she is brought up
in will also shape one's ethics.
It is our hope that through the youth development programs and livestock shows, we are helping
to shape positive ethics for the youth. Ethics can be defined as moral standards that tell us how
to behave or as a code of values that guide our choices and actions. Basically, ethics are what
help us decide what is right and wrong. General H. Norman Swartzkopf states that "the truth of
the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
During the livestock shows, it is important to remember that decisions made by both adults and
youth are affecting the stakeholders of that show. Many will ask who the stakeholders are.
They are the youth, parents, family members, sponsors, breeders, show committees, and
consumers. Basically a stakeholder is anyone one comes in contact with while participating in a
One of the easiest ways to decide if a decision is an ethical one is to ask four questions from Jeff
Goodwin's "Line in the Sand" video.
1) Does it violate Food and Drug Administration law?
2) Is it fraud?
3) Does it compromise the welfare of the animal?
4) Does it relate to real-world agriculture?
Another way to decide is to ask yourself if you would be doing what you are doing if your
mother or grandmother were watching you, or if you would like your friends and family to read
about your actions on the front page of the newspaper.
A few years back I came across an article in a newsletter entitled "The Ten Commandments for
Showring Parents." With the show season at our doorstep, I believe it is appropriate to share
these "commandments" with you.
1. Thou shall know the rules.
There are written and unwritten rules regarding the showing of animals. Topping the list
of unwritten rules is to be courteous at all times and never lose your temper.
2. Thou shall allow your children to do their project themselves.
Obviously, when a child is 8, 9, or 10 years old, a parent is going to do much of the work.
However, there is a gradient in which the youngster starts doing more and accepting an
increasing amount of the responsibility.
3. Thou shall be supportive and involved.
To the other extreme, some parents believe there should be no parental involvement or
help. That is unrealistic. The breakdown of many American families can be directly
related to the family having nothing in common, no family projects or goals. A 4-H
Project can bring the entire family together with a common goal. Parents often find they
have as much to learn as their children.
At home, parents can help with the training, feeding, and care-as the youngster learns,
grows, and develops. At the show, parents can give advice if they see a judge is looking
for something particular in the showing. They often see an area on the animal that needs
more attention. Parents make great bucket-carriers, runners for something that was
forgotten, animal holders, etc. Most importantly, they can give a word of encouragement
and a smile when it is needed the most.
4. Thou shall allow your child to participate in as many shows as possible.
Experience is the best teacher. Nothing builds more confidence or takes the place of the
actual feel of the show equipment in a child's hand. Many 4-H and FFA clubs sponsor
showmanship workshops and one-day shows throughout the year. These activities not
only give your child an opportunity to gain experience and insight----they help you get
an idea of the type of animal needed for a project.
5. Thou shall provide the proper equipment.
Although it is not fancy or expensive equipment that determines a winner, the
appropriate equipment is a necessary part of showing.
6. Thou shall keep your attitude in check on show day.
Your attitude on show day can temper how your youngster performs. If they are
worrying about their mother or father being upset, it is impossible for them to
concentrate on what they ought to be doing.
7. Thou shall not be a showing sideline director.
Parents standing on the sidelines giving instructions to their children are distracting to
other exhibitors and to the judge. Your child is better off doing it on his or her own and
making his or her own mistakes. That is how they learnm-and, after all, the education
and growth of the youngster is the ultimate goal.
8. Thou shall not complain about the judge.
Complaining about the judge rarely, if ever, accomplishes anything positive. You do not
have to agree with the judge's decision and opinion, but you should try to see his or her
perspective on that day. Even if you cannot, don't complain. Remember, there is another
show and another judge down the road. Regardless of the judge, you will win a few and
lose a few.
9. Thou shall not disparage the competition.
There always seems to be a good deal of griping about how somebody got the job done.
The only solution is to make sure you and your children are getting the job done in the
right way. If others are cheating or not behaving in a suitable manner, they will cause
their own demise.
10. Thou shall honor your child.
When parents ridicule their children for bad performances as they leave the showing,
they are forgetting that the award-the trophy, the plaque, or the ribbon-is not as
important as the things the children learn and the friends that they make while pursuing
that goal. Since we are beginning another club year and show season, let us remember,
as parents (and as Extension Educators, FFA Advisors, and as 4-H/FFA Leaders) that
the showing is not just for prize animals; it is the show place for the finest young people
I am looking forward to an exceptional show season with the youth of Manatee County. There
are many things that occur behind the scenes that many never see. Many hours of work and
preparation go into livestock shows. It is important to always remember that we are here for the
youth and the final question on everyone's mind should be, "What is best for the youth in this
Cattlemen's Institute and Allied Trade Show
"Get 'Em Bred Institute"
The 24th Annual Florida Cattlemen's Institute and Allied Trade Show will take place on
Thursday, January 18 in Kissimmee at the Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show Arena. The
program will focus on nutrition, health and management for beef cattle production. The trade
show opens at 8:00am and the program will begin at 8:45am with a welcome from Dr. Jimmy
Cheek, UF/IFAS Vice President of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Dr. Hall Phillips,
DVM, Florida Cattlemen's Association President. Some featured speakers will be Dr. Mark
Spire, Dr. Bill Beal, Dr. Matt Hersom and Dr. Joe Vendramini. Please see the enclosed flyer for
the complete program schedule.
Manatee County Fair Youth Livestock
Shows and Sales
Every year many youth participate in the Manatee County Fair to compete for prizes, awards
and most of all bragging rights. Many of these youth will be competing in many different areas
during the fair. At this point we are looking at a very successful fair in the livestock area. To
date we have 105 steers, 181 swine, dairy animals, beef breeding animals, goats registered. I
encourage each of you to take some time to come out and support the youth of today who will
become the leaders of tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 16 Swine Weigh-In 3-6:00pm
Wednesday, January 17 Dairy Check-In 5-8:00pm
Swine Showmanship 7:00pm
Thursday, January 18 Swine Show 7:00pm
Friday, January 19 Dairy Show- 6:00pm
Saturday, January 20 Dairy, Swine and Horse Judging 7:30am
Dairy Costume Contest 10:00am
Swine Sale 2:00pm
FNGLA Youth Plant Sale 7:00pm
Monday, January 22 Goat Check-In 5-7:00pm
Tuesday, January 23 Steer Weigh-In 3-6:00pm
Heifer Check-In 3-6:00pm
Goat Show 7:00pm
Wednesday, January 24 Steer Showmanship 7:00pm
Thursday, January 25 Steer Show 7: 00pm
Friday, January 26 Beef Breeding Show 7:00pm
Saturday, January 27 Beef Breeding, Steer and Goat Judging 8:30am
Steer Sale 2:00pm
Youth Livestock Awards 7:00pm
Sunday, January 28 Horse Show 11:00am
As a reminder to all youth entering livestock in the Manatee County Fair, you are required to
have a Certificate of Veterinary Health Inspection (health certificate) for your animals to be
admitted to the fair. Without a certificate you will not be allowed to exhibit your animal. Check
your fair livestock rules for any additional tests, bleedings, or any other procedures that must be
followed prior to exhibition at the Manatee County Fair.
Small Farms Livestock Production Conference
"So Ya Wanna Be a Farmer"
The Small Farms Livestock Production Conference is presented by the South Florida Beef
Forage Program and was designed for ranchette or small landowners who are considering the
raising, management and production of livestock for pleasure or profit. This course, "So You
Want to be a Farmer", was designed more specifically for new or agriculturally inexperienced
landowners who are considering some field of livestock production on their small or limited
acreage to help guide them and provide them information for making a more informed decision
about what type of livestock producer they may want to be.
This course will provide basic information about all the different animal species as possibilities
for a small farming operation, explore some economic and business basics of agriculture
production, look at specialty production and markets as possibilities, give some basics of animal
health, buying healthy animals and keeping them healthy, your pasture and forage requirements
before you ever get started, including understanding different forage species and their fertility
and maintenance requirements, and what considerations you will need to make for fencing,
housing handling and holding equipment for all types of animal species.
This course will be offered on two dates, and at two different locations. The first offering
will be held Saturday, March 3, 2007 at the Highlands County Agri-Civic Center in Sebring, FL,
and the second, Saturday, March 17, 2007 at the Manatee County Extension Center in
Cost of the conference will be $20 per person pre-paid registration to include lunch and any
program materials. On site registration will be available for $30 per person. If you are
interested in participating you can pre-register with Christa Carlson, 941-722-4524.
Beef Management Calendar
* Begin grazing small grain pastures (if
* Check mineral feeder.
* Check for external parasites and treat if
* Deworm cows and heifers prior to winter
* Observe regularly for calving difficulties.
* Rotate calving pastures to prevent diseases.
* Watch for scours in calves.
* Investigate health of bulls before you buy.
* Have dead animals posted by a
veterinarian or diagnostic laboratory.
* Complete review of management plan and
update for next year. Check replacement
heifers to be sure they will be ready to breed
3 4 weeks prior to the main cow herd.
* Apply lime for summer crops.
* Check for lice and treat if necessary.
* Control weeds in cool season pastures.
* Begin grazing winter clover pastures when
approximately 6 inches high. Rye should be
12-18 inches high.
* Check mineral feeders.
* Put bulls out for October calving season.
* Make up breeding herd lists if using single
* Watch for calf scours.
* Give bulls extra feed and care so they will
be in condition for breeding season.
* Make sure cow herd has access to
adequate fresh water.
* Buy only performance tested bulls with
* Get taxes filed.
* Discuss herd health with you veterinarian
and outline a program for the year.
* Review herd health program with your
* Carry a pocket notebook to record heat,
breeding abnormalities, discharges,
abortions, retained placentas, difficult
calvings and other data.
* Observe cow herd for calving difficulties.
* Watch for grass tetany on winter pastures.
* Increase magnesium levels in mineral
mixes if grass tetany has been previous
problem (if you are not already using a high
* Examine bulls for breeding soundness and
semen quality prior to the breeding season.
* Vaccinate cows and heifers against
vibriosis and leptospirosis prior to the
* Top dress winter forages, if needed.
* Check and fill mineral feeders.
* Put bulls out with breeding herd.
* Work calves (identify, implant with
growth stimulant, vaccinate, etc.).
* Make sure lactating cows are receiving an
adequate level of energy.
* Watch calves for signs of respiratory
* Cull cows that failed to calve while prices
are seasonally up.
* Check for lice and treat if needed.
Christa L. Carlson
Extension Agent II, Livestock
Small Farms Livestock Production
"So You Want to be a Farmer"
8:00 8:45 Check-in and registration
8:45 Welcome and Introductions
9:00 Exploring the Possibilities: An overview
of animal species for production
consideration Pat Hogue
9:45 4R's of Farming: Resources, Risks,
Rules & Rewards Steffany Dragon
10:45 Overview of Specialty Markets to
Explore Robert Halman
11:30 Animal Health Issues: Sources, Buying
and Keeping them Healthy Lockie
1:00 Fencing for all types of Livestock Dr.
1:45 Pastures: Species, Fertility and
Maintenance Christine Kelly-Begazo
2:45 Equipment, Holding, Handling and
Housing Needs and Wants for Livestock
Production Brantley Ivey, Jim Selph
Highlands County Agri-Civic Center
March 3, 2007
Manatee County Extension Office
March 17, 2007
Registration Costs: $20 Pre-Paid Registration By February 17, 2006
$30 On Site Registration
For More Information Contact:
Christa L. Carlson
The South Florida
24th Annual Florida Cattlemen's
Institute and Allied Trade Show
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Osceola Heritage Park
1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane
Off Highway 192 East of Kissimmee
"Get'em Bred Institute"
Nutrition, Health and Management for Reproduction
8:00am Trade Show Opens
UF/IFAS Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources
Dr. Hal Phillips DVM
9:00am Animal Health Needs for Today's Cow Herd
Dr. Mark Spire, DVM, MD
DACT Manager, Technical Services, Schering-Plough Animal
10:00am Trade Show Break
10:30am Understanding the Estrous Cycle and Maintenance of Pregnancy
Dr. Bill Beal
Professor Animal & Poultry Science Department,
11:30am The State of the State
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture
1:00pm Reproduction Requires Adequate Nutrition
Dr. Matt Hersom
Assistant Professor, Ph.D. UF Animal Sciences Department
1:45pm Managing Pastures for Beef Cows
Dr. Joe Vendramini
Forage Agronomist, UF Range Cattle Research & Education Center,
2:30pm Trade Show Break
Dr. Bill Beal
UF/IFAS Extension Service
Allied Trade Industry