Dried curly dock weed & goats

Asked May 11, 2015, 8:37 PM EDT

I just purchased alfalfa hay and found out that curly dock weed grows in the same field. The hay is last years second cutting that has been stored in a dry barn. I am not sure how much is in the bale but I can see some evidence of it. I have goats of varying age from 5 years to 3 months old. Will any amount of dry curly dock poison my goats?

Grundy County Illinois

1 Response

Curly Dock can be poisonous to livestock including goats. If fresh forage is available they rarely eat enough to cause problems. However, if goats are in a dry lot situation and the Curly Dock is in hay - the goats may consume it along with the hay. Altering a plant (cutting for hay) can make poisonous plants more palatable. Usually the value of the feed is not worth the risk of losing the animals.

Dock or sorrel species (Rumex species) are common in poor, gravely and disturbed soils. They can accumulate oxalates and sometimes nitrates in their leaves and stems to varying degrees and if consumed in great quantity (such as in early spring or when no other forage is available), can cause oxalate poisoning.

Poisoned animals lose their appetite, stagger, are depressed, have muscle tremors, lie down, become comatose and may die. Signs mimic those of milk fever because oxalates bind blood calcium, so animals appear clinically hypocalcemic; oxalates also cause severe kidney damage.