The halogeton plant has round fleshy wiener-shaped leaves that grow in little bunches along the stem. It has a characteristic small hair-about 1/12th inch long-
on the end of each leaf. Reddish tinge of the stems becomes more pronounced during drought. Mature halogeton gets its tan color from winglike seed bracts that practically cover the plant.
The plant grows 1 to 3 feet tall; its height depends on moisture available during the growing season. Each plant has five main stems that come directly from the base of the plant. Halogeton may be mistaken for Russian thistle or tumbleweed. It is an annual in the goosefoot family.
Sometimes you'll see a solid line along the roadside extending out to the sagebrush area.
Halogeton, a fast-growing plant of the Western States, frequently causes poisoning in sheep. Cattle may be affected occasionally. Most losses occur when hungry animals are trailed through heavily infested areas.
The toxic substances in the plant are sodium and potassium oxalates, which are contained in leaves and other aboveground parts of the plant. Halogeton is dangerous at all times. It becomes more toxic as the growing season advances, reaching a peak of toxicity at maturity.
If other desireable forage is available and if animals can select their own feed, they will seldom eat toxic amounts of halogeton.
Where and When It Grows
Halogeton often grows along railroad beds, roads, and sheep trails, and in places where the soil has been disturbed. Dense stands are found on burned-over areas, overgrazed ranges, dry lake beds, and abanded dry farms. It thrives in the salty soils of semiarid regions-especially where native plant cover is thin.
Seeds are spread by the wind, water, animals, and vehicles.
Halogeton is a prolific seed producer. New plants established from February to mid-August produce a seed crop before the growing season ends in November.
With moisture and warm temperatures, seeds germinate. In unfavorable conditions, seeds may remain alive in soil for 10 years.
How It Affects Livestock
Sheep can tolerate small amounts of hlogeton if they eat other forage at the time.
About 12 ounces of halogeton will kill a sheep that has been without feed for a day or longer.
About 18 ounces will kill a sheep that has been feeding on other forage. First signs of halogeton poisoning occur 2 to 6 hours after an animal eats a fatal amount; death occurs in 9 to 11 hours.
Signs of Poisoning
2. Loss of appetite
3. Lowering of the head
4. Reluctance to follow the herd
1. Drooling with white or reddish froth about the mouth
2. Progressive weakening
3. Animal unable to stand
4. Rapid, shallow breathing
5. Coma, followed by a violent struggle for air.
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