NORMAN — High winds, flooding and violent tornadoes were commonplace in May. Cleanup has proven to be a monumental task for residents in the Shawnee, Moore and El Reno areas. Insulation and building debris from severe storm events can litter pastures, causing potentially significant negative effects on livestock health.
Heath Herje, Oklahoma State University Extension agriculture educator in Norman, cautions that cattle will eat just about anything that looks interesting.
“Picking up debris from their pastures can be a painstaking, labor-intensive process given the potential amount of small debris,” he said.
Insulation can cause bloat, impaction and gastro-intestinal problems when consumed, including possible hemorrhaging of the rumen and irritation to the lining of the digestive tract. Cattle may ingest nails, pieces of wire and other small pieces of metal. “Hardware” disease can occur.
A single piece of wire consumed can drop into the reticulum, one of the stomachs, where it can pierce the heart or other organs. Other problems are the shutting down of the rumen, depression, pain and decreased milk production.
“Cattle producers may want to administer rumen magnets — also sometimes referred to as reticular magnets — if there appears to be a significant amount of metal debris in pastures,” said Dr. D.L. Step, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian.
Local large-animal veterinarians have information on rumen magnets, including costs and availability.
Treatment of cattle suffering from insulation problems is symptomatic.
Nails and other sharp metal objects of various sizes also create a significant hazard to the feet and legs of animals.
Additional information is available online at dasnr.okstate.edu/tornado.