Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Lead can be a cattle killer

Lead poisoning cases have been reported to the DPI.

February 21, 2013 4:05am

DPI animal health officers have investigated an increased number of lead poisoning cases in cattle across Victoria in recent months.

DPI district veterinary officer John Gibney said lead poisoning was most common in cattle, and was usually caused by old discarded lead batteries that have become brittle and cracked, allowing cattle to access the lead contained within.

‘‘Young stock seem to be particularly attracted to lead, and most of the recent cases have involved dairy heifers on out blocks or agistment paddocks,’’ he said.

Mr Gibney said where cattle were being moved to areas not recently or regularly grazed, thorough inspection was required to ensure there wasn’t anything within the area that may be detrimental to their health.

‘‘Clinical signs include staggering and blindness, and unfortunately death is often the first sign of lead poisoning.

‘‘Treatment is often unsuccessful but an accurate early diagnosis can help to prevent further losses as other livestock can be removed from the source of the contamination.’’

Mr Gibney said lead levels in the liver and kidney of surviving animals could remain elevated for many months.

‘‘Animal tissues containing elevated lead levels are not permitted to be slaughtered for human consumption.

‘‘DPI imposes restrictions through a Contaminated Stock Notice preventing slaughter for human consumption until lead levels are below an established threshold.’’

For further information on lead poisoning please contact your local DPI animal health officer.

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