Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Poisonous Plant Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331646

Research Project: Understanding and Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Poisonous Plants on Livestock Production Systems

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Evaluation of the seasonal and annual abortifacient risk of western juniper trees on Oregon rangelands: Abortion risk of western juniper trees

Author
item Welch, Kevin
item Parsons, Cory - Oregon State University
item Gardner, Dale
item Deboodt, Tim - Oregon State University
item Shreder, Peter - Oregon State University
item Cook, Daniel
item Pfister, James - Jim
item Panter, Kip

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/19/2015
Publication Date: 8/1/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62986
Citation: Welch, K.D., Parsons, C., Gardner, D.R., Deboodt, T., Shreder, P., Cook, D., Pfister, J.A., Panter, K.E. 2015. Evaluation of the seasonal and annual abortifacient risk of western juniper trees on Oregon rangelands: Abortion risk of western juniper trees. Rangelands. 37(4):139-143.

Interpretive Summary: Several trees, including ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) trees, are known to cause late term abortions when eaten by pregnant cattle. Western juniper trees (Juniperus occidentalis) are found throughout the state of Oregon and in parts of Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and California. The bark, needles, and berries from western juniper trees contain labdane acids similar to ponderosa pine needles, albeit in lower concentrations. Previous research has shown that western juniper trees can cause late term abortions in cattle, similar to ponderosa pine trees. Analyses of over 400 western juniper trees from 35 locations across the state of Oregon suggest that western juniper trees in all areas present an abortion risk in pregnant cattle. The abortifacient compounds are found in bark, needles, and berries, with bark posing the most significant risk. There is substantial tree to tree variation, with some trees having extremely high concentrations of the abortifacient compounds and thus posing an extreme risk to cause abortions in cattle. Additionally, results from this study demonstrate that there is no difference in the abortifacient risk of western juniper trees throughout the year or from year to year. Cattle producers who winter cattle in rangelands with western juniper trees should take similar precautions to prevent late term abortions as they would with ponderosa pine trees.

Technical Abstract: Western juniper trees can cause late term abortions in cattle, similar to ponderosa pine trees. Analyses of western juniper trees from 35 locations across the state of Oregon suggest that western juniper trees in all areas present an abortion risk in pregnant cattle. Results from this study demonstrate that there is no difference in the abortifacient risk of western juniper trees throughout the year or from year to year. Producers who winter cattle in rangelands with western juniper trees should take similar precautions to prevent late term abortions as they would with ponderosa pine trees.