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LOCOWEED





Description:
Locoweed flowers resemble sweetpeas. Blossoms may be blue, purple, yellow, or white. Each stem contains numerous leaves and ends with a leaflet.
Its found on foothills, plains, and semiarid regions. It grows in tufts or clumps, 4 to 24 inces high. It is a biennial in the pea family.



Horses, cattle, sheep, and goats are frequently poisoned by eating locoweed.
The plant gets its name from the Spanish word that describes the crazy behavior of poisoned animals. "Locoed" horses seldom recover completely, so they have little value as saddle or work animals. Beef cattle rarely make economic gains, although they may appear to recover. Calf and lamb losses from abortion may be high.

Animals ordinarily will not eat locoweed unless feed is scarce. After eating it, they may prefer locoweed to good forage. Animals are more susceptible to locoweed poisoning after they have once been affected.
The more poisonous species include white locoweed, purple, blue, Bigbend, and western locoweed. Loco is poisonous at all stages of growth. Plants are dangerous throughout the year-even when they have matured and dried. All parts are toxic. Locoweed loses very little toxicity after three years of storage.



Where and When It Grows
Locoweed is commonly found on foothills and plains and in semiarid desert regions. It starts growth in late fall, in winter, or in early spring-depending on locality, species, and moisture.
The purple is found from southwestern South Dakota south to Texas and New Mexico.
White grows from Montana and North Dakota south to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Blue grows from eastern Washinton to California, east to Colorado. Bigbend locoweed is native to the region of Texas for which it was named; it also occurs in southern New Mexico. Western locoweed grows in eastern Arizona, as well as in the same areas as Bigbend.



How It Affects Livestock
Usually, an animal must eat large amounts of locoweed for 2 to 5 weeks before death occurs. Signs of poisoning appear after 2 to 3 weeks of continuous grazing on the plant.
In cows and ewes with acute poisoning, abortion and congenital skeletal malformations frequently occur.



Signs of poisoning: 1. Loss of flesh
2. Irregular gait
3. Loss of sense of direction
4. Nervousness
5. Weakness
6. Withdrawal from other animals
7. Loss of muscular control
8. Violent actions when disturbed.



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