nightshade toxicity to cattle

Asked June 14, 2015, 4:18 PM EDT

How toxic is purple nightshade to cattle. We have 50 acres of coastal bermuda hay crop that we are trying to grow organically but is getting quite a lot of purple nightshade in it.

Cooke County Texas

1 Response

This is a toxic plant to cattle. Typically they don't eat it when in good pastures. However if the pasture is overstocked or plant is found in high numbers, they are known to eat the fruit. Below is information from a veterinarian source:

Conditions of poisoning

Poisoning by these Solanum species occurs primarily when animals are confined in overgrazed fields or where nightshade is abundant. The hazard of poisoning varies depending on the plant species, maturity of plants, and other conditions.

Generally, the leaves and green fruits are toxic. Ingestion of juice from wilted leaves may be especially toxic and sometimes deadly. Many cases of poisoning have been reported as a result of eating green berries. Green berries have produced severe intestinal, oral and esophageal lesions in sheep. Cattle reportedly seek out the berries of Solanum species and will eat the green plant, specially when other green forage is unavailable. Silverleaf nightshade (S. eleagnifolium) is exceptional in that the ripe fruit is more toxic than the green. S. eleagnifolium is toxic at only 0.1% of the body weight. Toxicity is not lost upon drying. Solanine content increases up to maturity.