Be on lookout for lead

By Jeff Cave

Do you know what is laying around on your property that could be toxic to your livestock?

Perhaps you have a farm rubbish tip or a shed with forgotten unlabelled products?

Something as simple as a discarded lead battery can lead to the death of some livestock and the contamination of others.

Cattle, in particular, are adept at finding sources of lead poisoning such as old batteries, flaking lead paint, sump oil, and just about any other potential source.

Often the first sign of lead poisoning is finding dead livestock.

Where affected animals are observed, they show signs of central nervous system damage such as blindness, dullness and other nervous signs.

Removing the source of the lead is imperative.

However, this doesn’t help those livestock that are clinically affected, for which the prognosis is poor.

Other livestock exposed to lead must not be slaughtered for human consumption until it is confirmed that their tissues meet food standards.

This can involve costly testing and a considerable period of slaughter restrictions as unacceptable lead levels can persist for many months in stock that have been exposed to lead poisoning.

Prevention is the best cure.

Livestock are curious creatures and can be expert at finding lead, so check for possible problems, particularly before putting stock onto new country.

When checking for lead poisoning hazards, consider other potential livestock poisoning risks.

Take into consideration fencing-off all old and existing rubbish tips to ensure livestock cannot graze in these areas.

For further advice contact your local veterinarian or an Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer, or in NSW your Local Land Services.