November 2014
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Droughts Making Cattle-Grazing Grass Deadly?

In a story that has been sounding alarm bells allover the news, 15 cows have died on a ranch in Austin Texas after grazing on the grass in the field as they usually do.  Apparently the cattle were dead within hours of grazing in the area they were in on the ranch, and only 3 of the small herd grazing in the area actually survived the unfortunate incident.

Investigators are looking at the possiblity that the drought conditions may have propelled some sort of chemical reaction in the hybridized Bermuda grass named Tifton 85, that has been used in pastures now for several years without incident.   I know, I didn’t like the idea that cattle I’m probably eating beef from or drinking milk from are grazing on GMO’d grass, but that’s for another topic.

Right now researchers are thinking the problem is a rare combination of circumstances in this area of pasture that caused the deaths, which were determined to be caused by a cyanide type of poisoning which stems from consumption of a toxic acid called prussic acid.

The set of circumstances thus far that have been determined have been the combination of a drought in the area and the fact that the grass appears to have been fertilized with nitrogen only and not other necessary compounds, culminating in a toxic cocktail of chemicals releasing this prussic acid which then poisoned the cows.

Even more alarming is that this hybridized grass if planted in hundreds if not thousands of acres of pasture in Texas, which is a big cattle farming state as you may already know.  There is now a mad dash to resolve or at least figure out this issue to prevent more cattle deaths and also to prevent toxic cattle beef and dairy from being released to the public.

More to come on this very alarming story.  Do you think that the fact the grass is genetically modified has anything to do with this unfortunate set of circumstances, or that this would have occurred with natural grasses that hadn’t been tampered with genetically?  I’m very much on the fence about that myself.

 

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