GOSHEN, Ind. — One of the unique aspects of Elkhart County is the mix of farms and suburban living throughout the county. Many homeowners enjoy watching cows, horses and other livestock grazing from their own backyard.
This time of the year, I hear from veterrinarians or livestock owners saying they had some sick or poisoned livestock. The source of the poisoning is landscape plant clippings from neighboring lawns. How does this happen?
By mid-June and July, foundation plantings like yews and juniper can look a little scraggly. Larger trees like cherry and locust may have branches hanging down in “eye poking” range. Weeds like black nightshade, cocklebur, and members of the mustard family tend to pop up in landscape and garden.
As homeowners clean up, the pile of clippings and trimmings can get quite large. It may be tempting to put those yard wastes over the fence; after all, those animals do eat plants, right? Unfortunately, all the plants above are poisonous to livestock.
Other common plants found in lawns that can be poisonous to livestock include lily of the valley, rhododendron, hydrangea, buttercups, ground ivy, spurge, buckeye, pokeberry, oaks, milkweed, lupine and irises.
It is important to note that a plant that is poisonous to one animal may not be poisonous to other species. For instance, the berries of poison ivy and pokeberry are edible to some animals, but are poisonous to others. It is best to assume the plant is poisonous before making it available to animals.
— Jeff Burbrink. Extension Educator, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
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