Intrinsic Feed Toxicants Cyanogens

While all plants make a little cyanide, and animals all have ways of detoxifying significant amounts of that deadly compound, some plants make cyanide-releasing compounds in sufficient concentrations to cause illness and death. Members of the Prunus (such as wild cherries and peaches), Sorghum (Johnson grass, Sudan grass, etc.), and Lotus (trefoil) genera can cause cyanide poisoning under certain circumstances. Since the cyanide is released by enzymatic action from a cyanogenic glycoside, cell damage from frost or wilting is usually required to cause sudden death. Typically, acute poisoning results when a downed tree or large branch brings enough wilting leaves into a pasture to provide such a lethal dose. In addition, grazing or green chop feeding after freezing of Sudan grass or Johnson grass can kill as well.

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