The possibility of cattle dying due to ingestion of poisonous plants increases in the fall. Most of these plants are normally found in lots, pastures and in fence rows and are not consumed by cattle under normal grazing conditions. Drought, overgrazing or even curiosity or boredom will cause cattle to consume these plants.

Symptoms of poisonings include labored breathing, loss of consciousness, vomiting, disorientation and often death.

Many plants can cause similar symptoms. Ornamentals found around the house, yard or abandoned homesteads are often poisonous to cattle. Some of these are oleander, yew, jasmine, lantana, and castor bean. Check old house sites and if there is any doubt about a plant, remove it. In addition many ornamental trimmings are thrown "across the fence" into cattle pastures and are consumed by the animals, which can result in death.

Even trees have toxic potential. Wild cherry leaves have great toxic potential. Cyanide is formed and a quick death results from the consumption of wilted cherry leaves.

Other common forages can cause toxic effects when stressed. including: Johnson grass, Sudan, Sudex and Sorghum. All of these plants can form cyanide when stressed by frost, disease, excessive trampling during grazing or from heavy nitrogen fertilization.

Be aware of poisonous plants and check your pastures, fence rows and cattle holding pens for these plants. Contact your local extension service to find out what plants could be poisonous to your cattle.