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Interpretive Summary: Mineral-salt supplementation to ameliorate larkspur poisoning in cattle

By: Clinton A. Stonecipher, Ben T. Green, Kevin D. Welch, Dale R. Gardner, Scott A. Fritz, Daniel Cook, and James A. Pfister

Larkspurs (Delphinium spp.) are native forbs poisonous to cattle and cost livestock producers millions of dollars in losses each year. The role mineral status may play in larkspur poisoning in cattle is unclear. The ability of mineral-salt supplementation to alter susceptibility to larkspur toxicosis was evaluated in a pen and grazing study. In the pen study, animals supplemented with mineral-salt were found to be less susceptible to larkspur poisoning than non-supplemented animals. A separate group of animals grazed on larkspur infested rangelands. One group was supplemented with a mineral-salt mix and the other group did not receive any mineral-salt. Supplementing cattle with the mineral-salt mix did not alter larkspur consumption of grazing cattle. However, overall larkspur consumption was low. Results from the pen study suggest that a good mineral supplementation program will provide a protective effect for animals grazing in larkspur-infested ranges. The mineral-salt supplemented steers, in the grazing study, had higher concentrations of larkspur alkaloids in their blood serum indicating they may be able to tolerate higher larkspur consumption. The data also indicate that mineral-salt supplementation must be continuous throughout the time the animals are grazing as the positive effects can be lost within 30 days after supplementation.

Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science