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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Experience and Lactation on Lupine Consumption by Cattle

Authors
item Pfister, James
item Lee, Stephen
item Panter, Kip
item Motteram, Ernie - WSU PULLMAN
item Gay, Clive - WSU PULLMAN

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 27, 2007
Publication Date: March 2, 2008
Citation: Pfister, J.A., Lee, S.T., Panter, K.E., Motteram, E.S., Gay, C. 2008. Effects of Experience and Lactation on Lupine Consumption by Cattle. Rangeland Ecology and Management 61:240-244 March 2008

Interpretive Summary: Lupines often cause birth defects in pregnant cattle when eaten in early gestation. Some reports suggest that naïve animals may consume more lupine than more experienced cattle. In addition, the stress of lactation may alter forage selection, and lactating cows may eat more lupine than dry cows. Thus, the objectives of these trials were to examine the influence of experience and lactation on lupine intake during summer. Both study areas were near Ritzville, WA on rangeland dominated by cheatgrass, with abundant velvet lupine (Lupinus leucophyllus). During the first trial, 6 Hereford cows naïve to lupine, and 6 Hereford cows with experience grazing lupine-infested rangelands were grazed together for 25 days during summer. There was no difference in consumption of lupine by naïve and experienced cows. Cattle ate little lupine during the first 10 days, then consumption increased to 10-14% of daily bites. During the second trial, 6 lactating and 6 non-lactating cows grazed a lupine-infested pasture for 18 days. During the second trial, there was no difference in lupine consumption between lactating and dry cows. Cattle began eating lupine on day 4 and consumption generally increased while lupine was available; lupine consumption peaked at 10-15% of the diets. During both trials, plant concentrations of the lupine toxin, anagyrine, were near a threshold sufficient to cause crooked calf syndrome when eaten by pregnant cattle. Livestock producers with persistent problems of birth defects in calves should plan grazing management to reduce or avoid exposure to lupine-infested pastures during gestation days 40-70. Our results indicate that experience and lactation status are not important considerations in grazing management schemes.

Technical Abstract: Lupines (Lupinus spp.) containing certain alkaloids are either acutely toxic or cause birth defects in livestock. Lupine toxicity has been especially troublesome in portions of eastern Washington state. Some reports suggest that naïve, younger animals may consume more lupine than more experienced, older cattle. Further, lactational stress may alter forage selection, and lactating cows may eat more lupine than non-lactating cows. Thus, the objectives of these trials were to examine the influence of experience and lactation on lupine intake during summer. Both study areas were near Ritzville, WA on rangeland dominated by cheatgrass, with abundant velvet lupine (Lupinus leucophyllus). During the first trial, 6 Hereford cows (3 years old; 342 kg) naïve to lupine, and 6 Hereford cows (4-6 years old; 493 kg) with experience grazing lupine-infested rangelands were grazed together for 25 days during summer. There was no difference (P > 0.5) in consumption of lupine by naïve and experienced cows. Cattle ate little lupine during the first 10 days, then consumption increased to 10-14% of daily bites. During the second trial, 6 lactating and 6 non-lactating cows (4-6 years old; 560 kg) grazed a lupine-infested pasture for 18 days. During the second trial, there was no difference (P > 0.6) in consumption between lactating and dry cows. Cattle began eating lupine on day 4 and consumption generally increased while lupine was available; lupine consumption peaked at 10-15% of the diets. During both trials, plant concentrations of the lupine toxin, anagyrine, were near a threshold sufficient to cause crooked calf syndrome when eaten by pregnant cattle. Livestock producers with persistent problems of birth defects in calves should plan grazing management to reduce or avoid exposure to lupine-infested pastures during gestation days 40-70. Our results indicate that experience and lactation status are not important considerations in grazing management schemes.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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