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Was kale the culprit?

PUBLISHED: 10:48 30 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:48 30 April 2014




I grow a fair quantity of vegetables for a local veg box scheme, and throw fresh green waste over the fence for my sheep to enjoy. However, last week one ewe died suddenly and now another has fallen seriously ill, after I’d been clearing mixed brassica plants and feeding these to my flock. Surely cabbages are OK for sheep – or could there be a connection?

Alan Beat says: Most brassicas are safe to feed whilst young and leafy, provided that daily intake is restricted and complemented by other feedstuffs. When plants have been allowed to mature, the small amounts of toxic substances that most brassicas contain become more concentrated and therefore more dangerous, especially in kale.

When feeding kale to sheep, it’s good practice to ration it to a maximum of one pound per head per day, otherwise problems can arise. It may be that you have fed mature kale plants to your flock and unwittingly poisoned the most susceptible individuals. I recommend that you remove all brassica waste from the field and consult your vet urgently regarding the sick ewe.

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