Copperweed may reach a height of 3 to 5 feet. A large number of stems grow from the
crown. Each has many narrow leaves. Small flowering
heads turn orange or yellow when mature. The plant
keeps its copper color through the summer. Copperweed
is a perennial in the sunflower family.
Cattle and sheep
may be poisoned by feeding on copperweed when other
food is scarce. Cattle are more likely to eat the plant in the fall, when they are being trailed from summer
range. Sheep are occasionally poisoned in the fall and
winter by eating dry leaves that have fallen to the
ground. Most losses though appear in cattle.
Copperweed contains a toxic alkaloid that is dangerous
at all times. Toxicity reaches a peak when the plant
matures. Leaves and stems are equally toxic.
Where and When
Copperweed grows along old stream beds
or gullies, where moisture is plentiful and the soils
are usually high in salt.
The plant starts growth in the spring. Flowers appear during July and August.
How It Affects Livestock
Cattle are more susceptible to copperweed poisoning than sheep. Three pounds or an amount equal to 0.5 percent of the animal's body weight will cause death. Poisoned cattle die 24 to 48 hours. Poisoned sheep may linger 1 to 3 weeks before death.
Signs Of Poisoning
1. Loss of appetite
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