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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20836
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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are hawthorn berries (bright red little apple looking berries)

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are hawthorn berries (bright red little apple looking berries) toxic to sheep?

Hello, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with you today.

The berries from the Hawthorn ( Crataegus crusgalli, example ) do not tend to be grazed by most sheep and livestock (since they are considered to be bitter) unless the grazing material in the pasture is poor or being overgrazed. In regards XXXXX XXXXX toxicity, the seeds are recognized as containing cyanide but often large volumes of berries would need to be consumed to see adverse effects from this. That said, in cases of significant ingestion, we'd be more likely to see colic/diarrhea and potentially impaction before signs of intoxication.

Furthermore, I do want to note that Hawthorn is not the only red looking berry that our sheep can be exposed to. Therefore I do want to mention some other berries (that you to make sure are not present here) that can cause fatalities in the flock. Specifically, Yew (Taxas spp, example) and members of the Prunus spp (ie chokecherry, pincherry, wild black cherry). These berries have all been associated with ruminant poisonings and fatalities. Yew has been found to contain a significant level of cardiac toxins (ie Taxine). And the others have been shown to contain enough cyanide in their flesh/seeds/sometimes even leaves to cause fatalities in livestock species (though cows are reported to be a bit more sensitive then sheep to these). Finally, we can also see digestive issues with the Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum, aka Winter cherry, example).

Overall, Hawthorn is probably the lesser danger of the red berries for sheep but in any case are not something we really want them grazing. If they are, then we'd need to review the management program for them to make sure they are getting enough food and perhaps considering fencing this plant off from them.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.


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