Lifestyle & Belief

Texas cattle deaths linked to toxic grass


A picture taken on June 20, 2012 shows a cow in a field next to electricity poles in Percy, northwestern France.



Cattle deaths in Texas have been linked to cyanide in a common Bermuda grass hybrid found in grazing lands across the Southeast.

Jerry Abel, owner of a central Texas ranch, found 15 of his 18 cattle convulsing in his pasture before they died from eating the toxic grass, reported the Associated Press. The first documented case raised concerns from other ranchers who used the same grass to feed their herds, but state agriculture experts said they believe the problem is isolated and there is no reason to worry.

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"If cattle are already on pasture, don't worry about it," said Larry Redmon, a specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, which worked helped investigate the deaths, according to the AP. "Chances are it's not going to be an issue." But, he said, "I would never say never."

"When we opened that gate to that fresh grass, they (the cows) were all very anxious to get to that," said Abel to CBS News.

The grass is a hybrid form of Bermuda known as Tifton 85, which has been growing in the US for 15 years and feeding Abel's Corriente cattle, explained CBS. Corriente are small in size and also have small horns, making them perfect for team roping.

Tifton85 is grown south of the Red River and is used by ranchers because of its drought resistance and nutritive value, according to the AP. It is the most commonly used Bermuda grass variety in Texas.