Effects of chronic ingestion of tarbush (<i>Flourensia cernua</i>) on ewe lambs

TitleEffects of chronic ingestion of tarbush (Flourensia cernua) on ewe lambs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsFredrickson E.L., Thilsted J.P., Estell R.E., Havstad K
JournalVeterinary and Human Toxicology
Date Published1994
Keywordschronic ingestion, ewe lambs, Flourensia cernua, tarbush

Efforts to increase livestock utilization of tarbush are being coupled with studies to examine tarbush toxicity. Thirty-eight (19/treatment) ewe lambs were assigned at birth to receive either tarbush or alfalfa (15%, dry matter basis) in a sorghum-based growing ration. Lambs were pen-fed this diet 60 d pre-weaning and 60 d post-weaning. No differences existed between treatments in feed consumption. In the tarbush group, 1 lamb died of unknown causes at 90 d of age, while 3 lambs died between 115 and 120 d of age. There were no deaths in the alfalfa group. Shortly before death, lambs fed tarbush appeared lethargic, disoriented and anorectic. At 122 d of age, 5 lambs were randomly selected from each group. Feces and jugular blood samples were obtained from each lamb before being euthanized and necropsied the following day. All fecal samples were negative for occult blood. Serum gamma glutamyl-transpeptidase (P  <  0.001) and aspartate aminotransferase (P  <  0.001) activities and platelet counts (P  <  0.05) were elevated in lambs fed tarbush, while serum calcium concentrations tended (P  <  0.10) to be greater. Histologic examination revealed diffuse liver apoptosis in lambs fed tarbush. These data indicate tarbush leaves cause liver damage when fed for extended periods of time.