White Snakeroot

Cotton*wood

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I just recently found out that white snakeroot is extremely toxic to sheep. Does that mean I completely keep it out of their paddocks, or will they avoid it like other things that don't taste good, like snow-on-the-mountain and black walnut leaves? (They have PLENTY of grass and other yummy things--like ragweed, aster, honey locust, green briar, clover, etc. and are rotated to a new paddock every day.)
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Baymule

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I don't know what white snakeroot is. I looked it up, I don't have that here and have no experience with it.

@Cotton*wood how many acres do you have? What about cutting it off so it doesn't go to seed and burning the flower head? Or maybe spot spraying it with a herbicide?
 

Cotton*wood

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I don't know what white snakeroot is. I looked it up, I don't have that here and have no experience with it.

@Cotton*wood how many acres do you have? What about cutting it off so it doesn't go to seed and burning the flower head? Or maybe spot spraying it with a herbicide?
It really only grows in the shade, so the only place it's growing is in a strip of woods down the middle of one of our pastures (about an acre and a half, perhaps). It'd be easy enough to fence them out of it, but it's still so hot, that they'd much prefer to be in the shade. I just don't think I will have the time to pull it all up.
 

Cotton*wood

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I'm also wondering now about earlier this summer when they went through there, and basically cleaned it all out. I identified black snakeroot, which is supposed to be bitter, but not harmful. Did they eat the white snakeroot too? And if so, will that make their meat toxic? How long does the toxin stay in their bodies?
 

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Oh.... good.... grief!

I got curious, and started googling... because I had never heard about a plant making the animal toxic... but you are correct, it can!!! :ep

I would HOPE that if the animals were not showing symptoms, that they hadn't had too much, and so were safe to eat.

But, the problem is that the toxin is fat soluble, so it is not flushed from the system and can build up.

Do you have any nursing lambs at the moment? It sounds like the largest concentration of the toxin goes into the milk.... so if the lambs are good and healthy, then it is probably ok.

BUT, I would work hard to kill every single white snake root plant on your place.... super scary stuff!

Taken from:
White snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) is a member of the daisy family that can cause severe toxicities in livestock and humans. The perennial herb grows 1-3 feet tall from a shallow mat of fibrous roots, has oval, opposite, serrated leaves with pointed tips, and clusters of small white tubular flowers that bloom in late summer. White snakeroot is common throughout Indiana and the eastern United States. The plant is found in low, moist, shady areas and in clearings and thickets bordering woodlands. Consumption of 0.5-2.0% of body weight in green plant is associated with signs of intoxication in livestock. The toxic effect is cumulative. All parts of the leaves and stems are toxic. Tremetol content is highest in the green plant and remains toxic even when dried in hay. Frost does not inactivate the toxin. Following ingestion, plant components presumably become toxic after microsomal activation by cytochrome P-450 enzymes in the liver. The apparent toxic principle in white snakeroot may be tremetol (or its ketone, tremetone), a fat-soluble, high molecular weight alcohol. Crude tremetol has been experimentally separated into a toxic fraction and a nontoxic sterol fraction. Tremetol is fat soluble and excreted in the milk of lactating animals. Lactating animals are generally slower to show clinical signs of toxicity, although their nursing young will be affected.
In cattle, white snakeroot intoxication has been called "trembles" because of the characteristic muscle tremors. Clinical signs in cattle and other ruminants include depression, lethargy, listlessness, acetone breath (ketosis), constipation, and weakness that often progresses to recumbency, coma, and death in 2-10 days. Muscle tremors are most severe in the muzzle and legs and tend to occur after exercise.
In horses, white snakeroot intoxication is associated with congestive heart failure. Clinical signs include sweating, stumbling, depression, jugular pulses, tachycardia, cardiac arrythmias, and difficulty swallowing. Electrocardiogram changes include increased heart rate, ST elevation, variable QRS complexes, and ventricular premature beats. Muscle tremors are inconsistently observed in horses with white snakeroot poisoning.
White snakeroot intoxication was the cause of "milk sickness" in 18th and 19th century America. Milk sickness in humans begins as weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and violent vomiting followed by constipation, severe thirst, vomiting, tremors, acetone breath, prostration, delirium, coma, and death. Abraham Lincoln's mother reportedly died from milk sickness in 1818 after drinking milk from a cow that had been grazed on white snakeroot. Although tremetol is not inactivated by pasteurization, human disease is uncommon today due to current practices of animal husbandry and the pooling of milk from many producers.
Mortality in livestock is high. Treatment consists of supportive care, including extra bedding in stalls to prevent development of pressure sores in recumbent animals. Exercise and excitement should be avoided. Lactating animals should be frequently milked out and the milk discarded. Cattle, horses, and other livestock should be restricted from access to pastures containing white snakeroot.
There are no specific routine diagnostic tests for tremetol (or tremetone). Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, presence of white snakeroot in the hay or pasture, elevated muscle enzymes (CK, ALP and AST), histologic evidence of cardiac and/or skeletal muscle degeneration and rule-out of other causes. Rumen or stomach contents may be submitted for microscopic identification of white snakeroot leaves. Gross lesions associated with white snakeroot and other toxic myopathies are often unremarkable, and may be difficult to distinguish microscopically from acute nutritional or exertional myopathies.
Differential diagnoses include botulism, organophosphate intoxication, nutri-tional or exertional myopathies, other toxic myopathies, rabies and esophageal obstruction in horses. Other plants that cause tremorgenic syndromes in livestock include dallies grass, rayless goldenrod (Isocoma wrightii), Jimmy fern (Notholaena sinuate) and western mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora). Most of these plants are found in the southern and southwestern United States.
-by Dr. Kim Maratea, ADDL Graduate Student
 
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My first reaction: Glad I don't have that stuff here!
My second reaction: @Cotton*wood I think you'd better find the time to get rid of that stuff! Machete chop it down, put in a wagon, tractor bucket or something to haul it to the burn pile, and spray the stump with a herbicide and make it a strong one to KILL the darn plant!
 

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Trying to figure out how to tell if the meat is toxic, I found this

From

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/snakeroot

Macroscopic lesions include pale white to tan areas and linear streaks throughout the myocardium;
So, when butchering look at the heart muscle closely, and see how healthy it looks.

I found an old book that said that poisoning in sheep also caused enlarged kidneys.

Also, that sodium bicarbonate was useful in combating poisoning.

Both of the above from the book:

The Connection of Milksickness with the Poisonous Qualities of White Snakeroot​

By Walter George Sackett
 

Cotton*wood

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Oh.... good.... grief!

I got curious, and started googling... because I had never heard about a plant making the animal toxic... but you are correct, it can!!! :ep

I would HOPE that if the animals were not showing symptoms, that they hadn't had too much, and so were safe to eat.

But, the problem is that the toxin is fat soluble, so it is not flushed from the system and can build up.

Do you have any nursing lambs at the moment? It sounds like the largest concentration of the toxin goes into the milk.... so if the lambs are good and healthy, then it is probably ok.

BUT, I would work hard to kill every single white snake root plant on your place.... super scary stuff!

Taken from:
Yikes! Yes, there are nursing lambs, but they're all super-healthy, great growth. I'm actually thinking that it's probably not where they were back in June, because there's none of it in there--just in a little area between one pasture and that one that I didn't let them in because there were also a bunch of branches cut off of a super-thorny honey locust, and I didn't want them to step on them and get thorns in their feet. So they probably haven't eaten any. And when I was moving them from one paddock to another and they had to walk past some of it, a couple of them sniffed it, and didn't eat any. So maybe they can tell it's bad and not eat it (assuming they have plenty of more desirable things.)

And yes, I will be pulling it out, and I think I could recognize it when it comes up in the spring.
 

Cotton*wood

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Trying to figure out how to tell if the meat is toxic, I found this

From

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/snakeroot


So, when butchering look at the heart muscle closely, and see how healthy it looks.

I found an old book that said that poisoning in sheep also caused enlarged kidneys.

Also, that sodium bicarbonate was useful in combating poisoning.

Both of the above from the book:

The Connection of Milksickness with the Poisonous Qualities of White Snakeroot​

By Walter George Sackett
Unfortunately, I didn't butcher our one lamb myself, but took him to be processed by a meat-processing person. But if we ever do our own, I'll certainly check it out.
 

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