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Modern Mysteries

Mystery as grass kills herd of cattle

June 27, 2012 | Comment icon 22 comments



Image Credit: sxc.hu
15 cows were found dead in Texas after munching on grass that had suddenly started producing cyanide.
[!gad]The hybrid grass had been growing at the ranch for over 15 years without any problems before the incident happened, the herd had been moved in to the field to feed and within hours most of them were dead or dying. "That was very traumatic to see, because there was nothing you could do, obviously, they were dying," said ranch owner Jerry Abel.

In an effort to get to the bottom of the mystery research was carried out to find out what was in the grass that could have killed the cows. Preliminary tests revealed that the grass had mysteriously started to produce cyanide. "Coming off the drought that we had the last two years ... we're concerned it was a combination of events that led us to this," said vet Gary Wagner.

Scientists are now investigating the case and others like it in an effort to determine if the grass has experienced some form of unexpected mutation.
The grass is a hybrid form of Bermuda known as Tifton 85 which has been growing here for 15 years, feeding Abel's 18 head of Corriente cattle. Corriente are used for team roping because of their small size and horns.


Source: CBS News | Comments (22)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Charlie Prime 10 years ago
...it happens sometimes when grass is greatly stressed- cell walls break and the compounds in the outer tissues meet enzymes in the leaf tissues, and the grass is suddenly poison. We did have a hellacious drought last year. When I drove back from working in Los Angles all summer, it was dramatic. Heading east, there was greenery until about 40 miles west of Austin. Then suddenly nothing but total brown and death. Not a speck of green on any shrub, or field. Trees dropping leaves, and more brown than green.
Comment icon #14 Posted by CRIPTIC CHAMELEON 10 years ago
Was the hybrid grass genetically modified to grow better/healthier etc or to kill of insects.? But then some how mutated , & if so do they do the same type of modification with wheat/barly.?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Alienated Being 10 years ago
PETA will claim that the farmer poisoned his own cows with cyanide.
Comment icon #16 Posted by csspwns 10 years ago
RIP cows
Comment icon #17 Posted by rashore 10 years ago
Was the hybrid grass genetically modified to grow better/healthier etc or to kill of insects.? But then some how mutated , & if so do they do the same type of modification with wheat/barly.? Tifton 85 is a F1 hybrid only, it has not been genetically modified at all. If there was serious drought in the area, it's more likely prussic acid poisoning, and that is something that normally occurs in some grasses when they are under stress. It's not a mutation. What do they do with wheat and barley? Some are heirloom, some are hybrids, some are GMO. Depends on who the farmer is and where they sour... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by CRIPTIC CHAMELEON 10 years ago
I like your train of thought rashore.
Comment icon #19 Posted by ZZnow 10 years ago
In case anyone is interested, I have read that Monsanto was producing GMO grass.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Paracelse 10 years ago
In case anyone is interested, I have read that Monsanto was producing GMO grass. they are producing alfafa as far as I know:
Comment icon #21 Posted by rashore 10 years ago
In case anyone is interested, I have read that Monsanto was producing GMO grass. um, yeah.. just google up Monstanto frankengrass. Been around since early 2000's if I'm recalling right. Now there's gonna be Roundup Ready grass seed hitting the market. Well, bluegrass for golf courses at any rate, I have no idea how available it will be for regular consumers yet. Personally, I don't like GMO one little bit. I think we are screwing with nature in really wrong ways that can't be reversed. However, I really think in this particular case it's a natural effect that a lot of grass can have- natural, ... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Charlie Prime 10 years ago
One would think that cows would have learned to avoid eating lethal grass. Hybridization is a form of genetic modification. Somebody is pushing the limits of safety with these modified cows eating modified grass.


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