Plant poisoning of livestock in New Zealand

Plant poisoning of livestock in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


British settlers introduced large numbers of grazing animals, notably sheep, cattle and horses, to New Zealand during the latter half of the 19th century. They also brought many new trees, garden plants and grasses from their homeland, which soon became widespread in this country. The introduction of grazing animals unacquainted with indigenous plant varieties set the scene for inevitable and often serious stock losses from plant poisoning. Problems were further exacerbated by the large amount of stock droving that took place and the frequent absence of fences to contain stock on safe pastures during the early years following settlement. Much of the early plant poisoning was caused by native plants and trees such as tutu (Coriara spp), ngaio (Myoporum spp) and poroporo (Solanum spp). These were followed by losses caused by established exotic species such as oak, especially acorns (Quercus spp), yew (Taxus baccata), pasture plants and an extensive variety of garden escapees. Early Livestock Division reports from the former Department of Agriculture and later records from the New Zealand Veterinary Journal and Surveillance, record the observations of veterinarians and other scientists. These have contributed to our now extensive knowledge of plant poisoning in New Zealand.

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