Water Hemlock and Goats: Toxicity, Symptoms, Prevention

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In early spring when things are just starting to green up, watch out for water hemlock. It is a horrendous and unforgettable way to lose a goat. I read a fascinating university publication a couple of years ago after we buried our 2nd goat and started to put the pieces together. It was from 1920 and they tested various feeding methods of water hemlock to sheep to learn about toxicity. If you’re interested in this topic enough to read 23 pages or so, I highly recommend The Poison Parsnip Or Water Hemlock, available for free on Google Books.

In earliest spring, water hemlock is one of the first plants to grow. Eager for greens, goats will eat it because little else is available. Even well fed goats long for spring greenery. It is at this point that water hemlock is its most toxic above ground and it is at this point you need to be diligent with your otherwise smart and good-choice-making goats. We just keep ours up off the bottom where it grows until the grass has grown up. Living on a creek, new seeds come in yearly so it’s not possible to be sure they’re eradicated. Continue reading “Water Hemlock and Goats: Toxicity, Symptoms, Prevention”