FARMERS are being warned not to graze stock in dangerous pastures over the coming weeks.
Animals are at risk of nitrate poisoning after recent rains triggered a flush of growth, Agriculture Victoria is warning farmers across the Loddon Mallee region.
A poisoned animal will find it hard to transport blood and oxygen around their body, Agriculture Victoria veterinary officer Jeff Cave said.
"As a result, an affected animal will have difficulty breathing, followed by becoming weak and staggery before collapsing and dying," he said.
"If clinical signs are noticed early enough, veterinary treatment is possible," Dr Cave said.
Many weeds, crops and pasture plants have been associated with nitrite poisoning, including capeweed, variegated thistle, marshmallow and pigweed, he said.
"Major crop plants like maize, rape, soybean, linseed, sorghum, millet, wheat, oats and barley have also been associated with nitrite poisoning," Dr Cave said.
Cattle and sheep can tolerate a certain amount of nitrite and it is possible to prevent poisoning by making sure cattle and sheep are not overly hungry when introduced to a new feed, he said.
"If nitrite poisoning is suspected, animals should be removed without delay from the suspect paddock and placed onto feed containing less toxic herbage," Dr Cave said.
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