Watch for kikuyu poisoning

By Dairy News

Western Australian farmers are being encouraged to monitor livestock for signs of kikuyu poisoning after summer rains.

The Department of Primary Industries has confirmed one diagnosis of kikuyu poisoning in cattle in the Great Southern and has received several other reports of cattle losses in the region that are consistent with the disease.

Kikuyu can poison livestock on rare occasions given the right environmental conditions.

Department veterinary officer Andrew Larkins said it was important for producers to monitor animals closely over the summer period and investigate any signs of disease.

“Kikuyu poisoning most often occurs in areas that have seen a long dry spell or other form of plant stress, followed by a large amount of summer rain that cause the grass to grow rapidly.

“Paddocks that have been left ungrazed prior to rain can become quite lush and usually pose the biggest risk to stock.

“The onset of illness in livestock is rapid and animals can often be found dead.”

Signs of kikuyu poisoning in stock usually appear up to eight days after being moved into the affected paddock and include unusual vocalisation, looking bloated, drooling, lack of coordination, lying down and reluctance to move, and sham drinking.

Dr Larkins said that removing stock from paddocks where animals experienced signs of poisoning was essential to prevent further illness. The paddock should also be kept free from stock for as long as practical to prevent further losses.

“Many animals will recover given supportive care,” he said. “As with any possible toxicity, moving animals slowly and providing them with good quality shade, water and hay are important.”