Spring parsley grows 4 to 6 inches tall. It gets its name from the finely divided leaves that resembles parsley. Small white or cream-colored flowers are borne in umbrellalike clusters about 1 inch across. The plant has a long tap root. Spring parsley, a perennial, is a member of the carrot family.
Spring parsley causes a severe sunburn-or photosensitivity-in sheep and cattle. The plant is also known as cymopterus and wild carrot.
Animals do not die from eating spring parsley. But losses occur when affected ewes or cows with blistered, sore udders refuse to nurse their young. Lamb losses often are high; calf losses usually are low.
Spring parsley poisoning differs from bighead, a type of photosensitivity caused by horsebrush, but is similar to St. Johnswort poisoning.
Plants are poisonous from early spring until they mature and dry in early summer.
Where and When It Grows
Spring parsley grows on well drained soils, on rolling foothills, and with sagebrush, pinon pines, and junipers. It occurs at elevations of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. This is one of the first plants to begin growth in early spring. It flowers from late April to June and disappears by early summer.
How It Affects Livestock
Sheep are affected if they are exposed to direct sunshine after eating as much as 1/4 pound of the green plant. Sunburn varies from slight to severe; blisters form on areas of the sheep's body not covered by wool. In advanced poisoning, all the white areas of the body may be sunburned. Ewes are especially susceptible to the plant poisoning during March, April, and May.
Losses are primarily confined to lambs. On ranges where spring parsley is the first spring plant to emerge, a ewe may eat it soon after lambing. The sunburned udder and teats become so painful that the ewe will not stand to let the lamb nurse. Newborn lambs die of starvation or deydration. Surviving lambs usually are stunted from lack of milk.
Cattle are affected if they are exposed to direct sunlight after eating about 1 pound of the green plant. Hairless areas on the body become sunburned. Cows refuse to let calves nurse. In severe posioning, althe whieareas of the bodymay blister and animals may lose weight aidly.
Sheep and cattle recover gradually after they stop eating the plant.
Signs of poisoning
In mature sheep and cattle:
1. Sunburn and blistering of exposed areas of the body (nostrils, muzzle, udder, teats, genital organs)
2. Painful thick brown scabs
3. Refusal of ewes and cows to nurse their young
In lambs and calves:
1. Excited running from one dam to another to try to nurse
2. Loss of weight or failure to gain weight
BACK TO INDEX
H O M E
Would You Consider Signing