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Suspected bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) toxicity in cattle in North Wales
  1. J. Angell, BVSc, MRCVS1 and
  2. T. Ross, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS2
  1. Wern Veterinary Surgeons, Greenfield Road, Ruthin, Clwyd, Denbighshire, LL15 1EY
  2. Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Aberystwyth, PO Box 55, Y Buarth, Aberystwyth SY23 1ND
  1. E-mail for correspondence joseph{at}wernvets.co.uk

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IN North Wales, environmental schemes such as Tir Cynnal and Tir Gofal have been successful in encouraging the reduction of grazing pressure on hill pastures, to increase the ecological biodiversity of moorland areas (Welsh Assembly Government 2010). The resulting increase in plant numbers of diverse species has allowed vulnerable flora to regain an ecological niche. However, while many of these plant species are harmless, some are toxic to ruminants if ingested. This short communication describes the case of two cattle that had grazed wet moorland pasture and subsequently died from bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) toxicosis in July 2010.

Five crossbred cows of mixed ages, with two- to three-month-old calves at foot, had been grazing a partially drained moorland pasture. Two cows were presented. Cow 1 was 13 years old and had been found dead a few hours previously. Cow 2 was 12 years old was presented as severely ataxic. The other three cows and all the calves remained clinically normal.

On farm, postmortem examination of cow 1 (carried out by JA) revealed hepatic fibrosis; the liver was small …

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