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Types of Toxins and Poisons to Avoid

March 12, 2020

Types of Toxins and Poisons to Avoid

By Will Winter, DVM

Toxic exposure can come from heavy metals, usually human-sourced or industrial chemicals such as lead, mercury, arsenic or cadmium. These can come from the water from wells, pond water, or from upstream sources. It often comes from the forages or even the air. When livestock are mineral-deprived they tend to try to lick substances such as old tires, flaking paint, lubricants from machinery, paper bags or other trash.

Likewise, we can include the potentially deadly array of farm chemicals and drugs that, sadly, can be found on just about any farm. We know now that glyphosate (aka Round Up) not only doesn't ever go away, it can lay the groundwork for just about any disease of man or beast. The same goes for all the chemical fungicides, pesticides and other herbicides. Even antibiotics should be avoided (hence the name antibiotic, which literally means "against life"). I prefer to use totally-nontoxic preventative remedies instead of drugs.

Perhaps even more commonly, we see problems from the plant toxins that are found in poisonous weeds. Grazing animals will not normally eat poisonous plants, they can detect them, however, starvation, under-feeding or other stresses can overpower their innate wisdom. The list of poisonous plants goes on too far to list here but they certainly include the nightshades, poison hemlock, water hemlock, lupine, jimsonweed, and many others. The various common names for these plants vary from region to region, so careful study of your own plants is worthwhile. Note that many edible plants only become poisonous during certain times or after experiencing a drought or a hard freeze.

Last, but certainly not least, we must include toxins made within the body. These poisons, aka endotoxins, do as much damage, if not more than those we run into from exposure. They are mostly normal bodily waste products. Even though we make them, they can kill us if they accumulate. In fact, one of the leading causes of death in dairy cows is Acidosis, which means an accumulation of digestive acids, primarily D-lactic acid, that are circulating throughout the body. The ideal rumen pH is about 6.8, whereas acidic animals can have a rumen pH of 5, approximately 100x more acid.

After reading about just a few of the toxic hazards I think it's safe to assume that we all need as much protection as possible. This is particularly true of breeding animals, because they live longer and because their reproductive organs are more susceptible. In the next edition, we will discuss the Top 10 Ways to protect you and your animals from these poisons.

Matt Buhmann

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