The extremely hot and dry conditions seen throughout Missouri this summer have challenged livestock producers in many ways. Producers have, in some cases, struggled to ensure that their stock had the water and forage necessary. Other have sought new ways to keep cattle cool as triple-digit temperatures pushed cattle toward any available shade or standing water.
University of Missouri Extension livestock specialists are now working to raise awareness of another challenge producers may face - prussic acid poisoning and nitrate accumulation in Johnsongrass (and other forages).
Here's an excerpt from a great piece from FarmTalk about the potential for problems related to prussic acid:
The weather stress this year likely contributed to an abnormally high accumulation of prussic acid in the tissue of johnsongrass, grain sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass crosses, forage sorghums and shattercane. Sudan and pearl millet generally have a very low prussic acid potential.
Symptoms of prussic acid poisoning occur quickly, often within 15 minutes. Farmers who are turning cattle that have not been recently on johnsongrass into a field with lots of johnsongrass in it are advised to only turn a few head in at first.
For the full article, click over to FarmTalk.com. And if you want more information, check with your veterinarian, the Department's Animal Health Division or your local MU Extension livestock specialist.