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Lead Poisoning Alert

22 April 2022

Ahead of turn out livestock farmers should be aware of the risk of lead poisoning with the greatest risk of poisoning occurring in the period immediately following turn out.

SAC data has shown that 92.5% of lead poisoning cases were diagnosed during the grazing season. Of these almost three quarters occurred in the months of May and June. Young inquisitive cattle are most at risk. If there has been an old battery leftover from an electric fence, then a young inquisitive calf is sure to find it.

Signs of lead poisoning include;

  • Sudden death
  • Blindness
  • Neurological signs such as fitting
  • Abdominal distention
  • Slow or stunted growth

Lead batteries, old paint, bonfire ash (sites of burnt-out vehicles) and fly-tipping are all primary sources of lead poisoning.

To reduce the risk make sure to;

  • Carefully check fields (whether you have grazed cattle there or not) for lead batteries from fly tipping or overlooked after using an electric fence before stock are turned out
  • Regularly check for fly tipping during the summer months
  • If using batteries for electric fences ensure that, the battery and fencer are covered and or positioned out of reach of cattle
  • Remove the ash and a layer of soil from sites of burnt out vehicles and bonfires

The best defence against lead poisoning is prevention so check fields now for potential sources and remove them.

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