Got Ergot? Some Vermont Cows Do | Agriculture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Pin It
Favorite

Got Ergot? Some Vermont Cows Do 

Local Matters: Agriculture & Animals

Fungus turns up in local livestock, feed

ALBURGH - In humans, it causes paranoia, hallucinations, tics, twitches and spasms. The fungus known as ergot, which has been linked to bad behavior from the French Revolution to the Salem witch trials, has turned up in livestock feed across northern Vermont.

The fungus was first discovered in Alburgh earlier this month after University of Vermont Extension Service Agronomist Heather Darby noticed foot swelling on one of her cows. "At first we thought she sprained her ankle and then we saw her skin was sloughing off, and that's when we knew it was something different," Darby says. After inspecting the rest of her herd, Darby noticed about a third of the cows showed telltale signs of ergot poisoning. A vet confirmed her suspicions.

Cases of ergot poisoning have also been reported in Morrisville, Highgate and other parts of the Northeast Kingdom, Darby said. While rarely fatal, the condition can make livestock ill after repeated exposure. In rare cases, poisoned livestock lose limbs. "This year the conditions were just right. It's amazing how much is out there," Darby says.

This year's wet spring allowed ergot to grow on grain supplies. The good news, Darby says, is that animals quickly recover once they stop eating the tainted feed. "The big thing is for farmers to be aware of the symptoms," says Tim Schmalz, a plant pathologist at the state

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It
Favorite

More By This Author

About The Author

Patrick Ripley

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation