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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Close Look at Locoweed Poisoning on Shortgrass Prairies

Authors
item Ralphs, Michael
item Graham, J. - NMSU EXTENSION
item James, Lynn

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2001
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
Citation: Ralphs, M.H., Graham, J.D., James, L.F. 2002. Reducing risk of locoweed poisoning on short grass prairies. Rangelands.

Interpretive Summary: Locoweed is the most widespread poisonous plant problem in the western U.S. This paper presents an annotated summary of research to reduce the risk of poisoning. Locoweeds are relatively palatable. Many locoweeds are the first plants to start growing in the spring and they may also regrow in the fall. Livestock generally prefer the green-growing locoweeds to other forage that is dormant in the fall, winter, and spring. The most effectiv management strategy is to deny livestock access to locoweeds during critical periods when they are more palatable than associated forage. Reserving locoweed-free pastures or controlling existing locoweed populations with herbicides can provide "safe" pastures for critical periods. Watching animals closely and removing those that begin eating locoweed can prevent further intoxication and prevent them from influencing other to start. Finally, conditioned food aversion is an effective practice to train animals to avoid eating locoweed, and may be economical where losses are large and persistent.

Technical Abstract: Locoweed is the most widespread poisonous plant problem in the western U.S. Locoweeds are relatively palatable. Many locoweeds are the first plants to start growing in the spring and they may also regrow in the fall. Livestock generally prefer the green-growing locoweeds to other forage that is dormant in the fall, winter, and spring. The most effective management strategy is to deny livestock access to locoweeds during critical periods when they are more palatable than associated forage. Reserving locoweed- free pastures or controlling existing locoweed populations with herbicides can provide "safe" pastures for critical periods. Watching animals closely and removing those that begin eating locoweed can prevent further intoxication and prevent them from influencing others to start. Finally, conditioned food aversion is an effective practice to train animals to avoid eating locoweed, and may be economical where losses are large and persisten.

Last Modified: 10/26/2014
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