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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Reproductive Losses to Poisonous Plants: Influence of Management Strategies

Authors
item Panter, Kip
item James, Lynn
item Gardner, Dale
item Ralphs, Michael
item Pfister, James
item Stegelmeier, Bryan
item Lee, Stephen

Submitted to: Journal of Range Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 26, 2001
Publication Date: May 1, 2002
Citation: PANTER, K.E., JAMES, L.F., GARDNER, D.R., RALPHS, M.H., PFISTER, J.A., STEGELMEIER, B.L., LEE, S.T. REPRODUCTIVE LOSSES TO POISONOUS PLANTS: INFLUENCE OF MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES. JOURNAL OF RANGE MANAGEMENT. 2002.

Interpretive Summary: Lupines, ponderosa pine needles and locoweeds are among the most important poisonous plants that cause reproductive losses to livestock producers from birth defects, abortions or multiple expressions of reproductive dysfunction. Basic management recommendations to reduce these losses to poisonous plants include: 1)keeping good records from year to year; 2) know wwhat poisonous plants grow on ranges and understand their effects; 3) develop a management plan to provide for alternate grazing in poisonous plant-free pastures during critical times; 4) provide for balanced nutrition, including protein, energy, minerals and vitamins; 5) provide necessary vaccination programs; 6) integrate an herbicide treatment program to reduce poisonous plant populations or to maintain clean pastures for alternate grazing; and, 7) manage the range for maximum grass production.

Technical Abstract: Poisonous plants that impair normal reproductive functions in livestock include lupines, ponderosa pine, broom snakeweed, locoweeds, selenium- containing forages, phytoestrogenic plants, endophyte-infested grasses and others. In this review we focus on lupines, locoweeds and ponderosa pine needles to demonstrate the broad and diverse effects that poisonous plants have on reproduction. Certain lupines (Lupinus spp.) contain quinolizidin and piperidine alkaloids that are fetotoxic and when grazed by pregnant cattle during specific stages of gestation induce skeletal birth defects and cleft palate, "crooked calf disease". Poison-hemlock (Conium maculatum) and some Nicotiana spp. contain similar alkaloids and induce identical birth defects in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep when ingested at certain stages of gestation. Locoweeds (species of the Astragalus and Oxytropis genera containing the indolizidine alkaloid swainsonine) interfere with most processes of reproduction when grazed for prolonged periods of time. Animals can recover normal reproductive function if withdrawn from locoweed grazing before severe poisoning occurs. While most animals may recover reproductive function, permanent neurological deficits may preclude normal reproductive behavior. Ponderosa and lodgepole pine needles (Pinus spp.) cause abortion in cattle when grazed during the last trimester of gestation. The specific chemical constituents responsible for the abortions belong to a class of compounds called labdane resin acids, including isocupressic acid (ICA), succinyl ICA, and acetyl ICA. Basic management recommendations to reduce reproductive losses to poisonous plants include; (1) keep good records; (2) know what poisonous plants grow on ranges and understand their effects; (3) develop a management plan to

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