Most of the time fodder is got by mechanized mowing of the grass or leftover crops. Then it is chopped into bits and given to the cattle. But hidden inside these grass lie dangerous weeds.
There are many plants which… contain chemicals or which accumulate chemicals that are poisonous to livestock. The single biggest problem is a weed that grows on the pastures that of carrot grass. It is also called congress grass or Parthenium hysterophorus commonly called Parthenium weed.
This plant is not only harmful for other plants but also for livestock and humans. Probably there is no other plant as dangerous as this weed. It causes allergic respiratory problems, dermatitis, mutagenicity (capacity to cause mutations or genetic alterations) in human and livestock.
This plant was used as a biological warfare agent by USA (probably genetically modification or intentional contamination) in Public Law 480 Wheat which was used in planned manner to disrupt or destroy agriculture & livestock in countries around the world. The wheat was also used to bribe other poor countries to support USA during the Vietnam War.
The PL-480 programme was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower the purpose was to “lay the basis for a permanent expansion” of American exports of agricultural products “with lasting benefits to ourselves” as described by him. The Recipient countries also had to become commercial markets for US Agricultural Products.
It was a kind of political chaplusi or buttering that India was doing. Since this weed came out of the PL480 wheat brought in by Congress Party the weed in India is known as Congress Grass. Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister who had the guts to stop this third rate wheat from being imported into India which also led to his assassination. Today, thanks to USA this plant has been transferred to almost all countries in the world.
Parthenium hysterophorus only use (other than to damage & destroy), and not many people know, is to use it along with other weeds in the preparation of organic pesticide.
When hay and fodder is purchased from outside or other farm there is a very high chance that this plant has been harvested or cut or mowed unknowingly along with the crop or grass. Once it has been dried and chopped it is next to impossible to, even detect it in a hay stack. It becomes the proverbial “needle in the haystack”.
By nature cows do not like this weed and avoid it when let out to graze. But when the fodder is cut and chopped the cattle is not able to avoid it. Another way is to tie the cow in the farm during day time with a long rope to let it graze within a desired area.
Young animals are often more susceptible than older ones, but it isn’t always the case.
In some cases the poison is present in the fresh plants but not dried ones. But the dried fodder lacks the nutrients.
Most of the poisonous weeds are unpalatable and animals will usually not graze them if given the choice. But when it gets chopped and mixed with other grass and hay the animals are not able to avoid it.
Since this plant enters the fodder of the cattle undetected by human and since this affect the health and milk production in the cows it is better to avoid stall feeding and allow the cow to graze. This will also reduce 2 kinds of labour – 1 that of cleaning the cow sheds and 2nd that of getting fodder, chopping it and then feeding.
Also avoid feeding any genetically modified crops like Corn, Soy, Cottonseed, Rapeseed because these crops are regularly sprayed with chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. It is very dangerous for the cattle to eat this cocktail of chemical poison.