Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Last fall we brought in new topsoil and graded the new pasture area to reseed in early spring. We planted a nice pasture mix and covered the seed with straw in late April to coincide with the rainy season. Within a couple of weeks, the seeds sprouted and the pasture was filling in nicely. We seeded with Chicory, turnip greens, milo, lespedeza mixed in with alfalfa, timothy, rye and orchard grass seed.
While checking the fence line for any possible escape routes, I noticed a dreaded and deadly plant hidden amongst the newly growing plants. Once I began looking, I found they were growing all over in the pasture. I spent the next couple of hours pulling the dreaded black nightshade plants from the pasture and fence line. This is one of many plants that will kill a goat.
I realized I had a false sense of the pasture being filled with "safe" plants since it had been newly planted. I realized dangerous weeds or plants can pop up almost overnight and the pastures and fence lines need to be frequently monitored.Goats while browsing can accidently ingest poisonous plants that can make them ill and even die.
The clinical sign of nightshade poisoning is Dyspnea (breathing difficulty) and death - and this is a common plant that grows across the country.
The best way to prevent your animals from ingesting poisonous plants obviously is to remove them which is no easy task in large pastures. The safest way is to pull them out by their roots place them in a bag and put them in the trash or to burn them. Use of pesticides or herbicides is not recommended for a variety of reasons. We make a point to walk the pasture a couple times a week to pull any poisonous plants that could harm our goats.
Learning to identify poisonous plants in your area and walking your pasture frequently is the safest way to get rid of them. Over the past three weeks we must have pulled over 50 new deadly nightshade plants from the pasture. Many had the little berry seeds forming on the plant.
How do you deal with poisonous plants growing in your pastures? I'd love to hear them.