(Reuters) – A mystery is ahoof in Texas farm country where cattle have dropped dead while grazing, puzzling scientists who say it appears an unusual combination of circumstances have turned pastures toxic.
Texas animal scientists said a type of grass known as “Tifton 85” bermuda grass is to blame for the poisoning of 15 head of cattle on an 80-acre ranch east of Austin. The animals went into convulsions and were dead within hours of being released into the pasture to graze. Only three cattle in that small herd survived.
“It’s a bermuda grass that nobody ever thought of as potentially having this problem,” said Gary Warner, a cattle veterinarian in Elgin, Texas, who autopsied the animals.
“We don’t know probably all we need to know currently. We do know the cattle died from prussic acid poisoning and we know the grass tested positive for prussic acid,” said Warner. “It is the same as cyanide poisoning, the same as they used in the gas chambers in Germany.”