As the winter months continue AFBI wants to make farmers aware of the risk of plant poisoning in sheep, particularly due to ornamental garden plants.
Whilst plant poisoning is diagnosed throughout the year, the majority of outbreaks of poisoning by plants in sheep occur over the winter months when grass is scarce. A common history is of animals that have recently been moved to new or rented pasture, that have broken out, or animals that have been brought in to fields closer to the farm, for dosing or lambing for example.
Clinical signs of plant poisoning in sheep occur a few hours after ingestion. The animal will become dull, salivate and may vomit. The animal may develop obvious abdominal pain and may develop nervous signs if it lives long enough. Frequently, the animal will become recumbent and die. There are no specific antidotes but supportive therapy may be beneficial. In particularly valuable animals, surgery to remove the toxic leaves from the rumen may be indicated. Often more than one animal in the flock is affected and a number may have died before a diagnosis by post mortem is confirmed.
If you are concerned your sheep may have eaten something poisonous, remove them from the potential source and contact your local veterinary practice for advice.
Notes to editors:
AFBI is an arms-length body of DAERA delivering research and development, diagnostic and analytical testing, emergency response capability and expert scientific advice for DAERA and other government departments, public bodies and commercial companies in Northern Ireland, and further afield.
AFBI’s Vision is “Advancing the Local and Global Agri-Food Sectors Through Scientific Excellence”.
AFBI’s core areas:
- Leading improvements in the agri-food industry;
- Protecting animal, plant and human health;
- Enhancing the natural and marine environment.
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