The University of Arizona

Impact of locoweed poisoning on grazing steer weight gains.

M.H. Ralphs, D. Graham, G. Duff, B.L. Stegelmeier, L.F. James

Abstract


Emaciation is one of the clinical signs of locoweed poisoning but few studies have documented impacts of locoweed poisoning on weight gains. Stocker steers (British X Continental cross, 200-210 kg) were grazed on locoweed-infested, short-grass prairie in 1996 and 1997 in northeast New Mexico. Each year, half the steers were averted to locoweed to allow them to graze locoweed-infested pastures without eating locoweed. They did not graze locoweed and steadily gained weight (0.50 kg/day in 1996 and 0.71 kg/day in 1997). The other group of steers were allowed to graze locoweed under natural grazing conditions and became intoxicated. Weight gains were not affected for the first 3 weeks, but thereafter the steers lost weight in both years. In 1996, non-averted steers consumed locoweed for a season average of 20% of bites. They were severely intoxicated and did not begin gaining weight for 50 days after they stopped eating locoweed. Steers in the 1997 trial consumed less locoweed (11% of bites) than those in 1996 and they recovered more rapidly. Seasonal weight gains were 21 to 30 kg less for locoed steers than control steers in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Locoweed poisoning will cause weight loss, and severely intoxicated cattle require a lengthy recover period after they cease grazing locoweed before weight gains resume. Stocker cattle should not be placed on locoweed-infested rangelands until green grass is abundant and locoweed begins to mature.

DOI:10.2458/azu_jrm_v53i1_ralphs


Keywords


conditioning;aversive conditioning;swainsonine;costs and returns;poisoning;weight losses;feeding habits;Oxytropis sericea;poisonous weeds;liveweight gain;forbs;steers;prairies;grasses;New Mexico

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