Some forages change after the first frost hits

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By Levi Berg

The nights are starting to be colder which means fall is starting. One precaution to watch for is potential frosts. The National Weather Service for Louisville states that the average first fall frost is around the end of October, but a frost can come at any time. 

After a light frost, certain forages and plants can bring the threat of prussic acid, also known as cyanide, poisoning to livestock. 

Plants such as sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, johnsongrass, wild cherry and others can contain cyanide-producing compounds. Prussic acid poisoning causes rapid death in livestock, and livestock can show signs of prussic acid poisoning just 15 minutes after starting to graze the plants after a light frost. 

Other signs of toxicity include fast breathing, anxiety, trembling, downed animals, convulsions, bright red blood and frothing at the mouth. Prussic acid poisoning is very similar to nitrate poisoning, but animals with prussic acid poisoning have bright red blood, whereas animals poisoned with nitrates have dark, chocolate-colored blood. 

If you see these signs, call a veterinarian immediately because prussic acid poisoning can kill livestock extremely quickly.

After a light freeze or you suspect prussic acid, do not graze wilted plants, twisted plants or plants with young tillers for around two weeks. 

However, plants susceptible to producing prussic acid can be chopped, ensiled or baled, but wait at least six to eight weeks to feed it to your livestock. 

For reassurance analyze your suspect forages before feeding by using a cyanide field test kit or have samples tested by a certified lab. 

The University of Kentucky Veterinarian Diagnostic Lab can test forages for prussic acids, and cyantesmo test strips are available to do a quick field test for prussic acid.

If you have these plants in your pastures, just keep a watchful eye and anticipate if a frost is coming. 

Forages such as sorghum-sudan hybrids and sudangrasses provide excellent forages, but just make sure to keep your livestock away from them after a light frost. Finally, remember to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect prussic acid poisoning in your animals. 

For further questions, please contact the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811. 

Information for this article was obtained from the University of Kentucky Master Grazer Educational Program October 2011 Article. 

Regional Beef Field Day is Sept. 25

It is that time of the year again for the Regional Beef Field Day. This year, the Regional Beef Field Day will be held on Monday, Sept. 25, at Todd Rand Farm at 1239 Milton Bedford Pike, Milton. Registration and exhibits starts at 3:30 p.m. and educational talks start at 5 p.m. This year’s topics include accuration feeding, cattle processing, custom marketing profit and loss, animal identification and freeze branding, and updates from the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association. As always, dinner will be provided by the Trimble, Henry, Oldham and Shelby county cattlemen’s associations. If you are attending, please RSVP with the Trimble County Extension Office at 502-255-7188 or the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811 by Sept. 21.

Waste Tire Collection Event is Sept. 14-16

On Sept. 14, 15 and 16, the Henry County Solid Waste is hosting a waste tire collection event at the state maintenance barn off Ky. 193. Individuals can bring old tires, on or off the rim, to be disposed. Tires from retailers, scrap or salvage yards and recycling businesses will not be accepted. Also foam filled, calcium filled, off road construction tires and solid tires will not be accepted, but all other tires will be. For more, contact the judge-cxecutive’s office at (502) 845-5707.