Plant testing to start soon

Testing to determine what killed more than 200 Southland dairy cows and caused liver damage and peeling skin in others last year is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

When dairy cows started showing signs of liver damage and photosensitivity last July, vets quickly pointed to poisoning by a herbicide-tolerant variety of swedes as a likely cause for the deaths.

DairyNZ regional team leader for Southland-South Otago Richard Kyte said testing of plant samples gathered when a working group formed to find answers in September was scheduled to begin this month, but had yet to start because the equipment needed was late arriving.

DairyNZ conducted animal autopsies and blood testing late last year and data being analysed from a survey of 120 farmers would soon be available. Mr Kyte said while the plant testing was about two weeks behind, it would be under way by the end of the month.

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