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Alert - Prussic acid danger in Oklahoma sorghum

Rising prussic acid levels in sorghum plants pose threats to cattle, says OSU Extension.


Oklahoma State University Extension has recently highlighted a critical concern for cattle ranchers—prussic acid toxicity in sorghum-based forages.

This issue has become increasingly prevalent due to environmental factors that elevate toxin levels in plants like Johnsongrass, particularly during periods of drought and high temperatures.

The concern revolves around the ingestion of these forages by cattle, which can lead to severe health issues such as muscle tremors, staggering, and even death.

Prussic acid toxicity is notably more dangerous in younger plants and those undergoing stress, where the toxin concentration is highest.

Ranchers are strongly advised to follow a set of guidelines to protect their livestock. Key recommendations include conducting forage tests for toxin levels before pasture grazing, ensuring cattle are not hungry when introduced to new pastures, and using rotation and careful observation strategies to manage grazing effectively.

By adopting these practices, ranchers can significantly reduce the risk of prussic acid poisoning, ensuring the health and productivity of their livestock in challenging environmental conditions.

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