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Goats and St John's Wort

PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:06 29 April 2014

My sheep have developed what looks like sunburn on their ears. I understand animals can become sensitive to light after eating St John's Wort. Is this something you have come across?

Q- My sheep have developed what looks like sunburn on their ears. I understand animals can become sensitive to light after eating St John's Wort. Is this something you have come across?

A - It is particularly white skinned sheep, goats, cattle and horses which are affected by the phototoxicity of St John's Wort, since the chemical reacts with sunlight. Behavioural signs of poisoning are general restlessness and skin irritation. Restlessness is often indicated by pawing of the ground, head shaking, head rubbing, and occasional hindlimb weakness with knuckling over of lower leg joints, panting, confusion and depression. Severe skin irritation is physically apparent, with reddening of non-pigmented and unprotected areas. This subsequently leads to itching and rubbing, followed by further inflammation and infection. Sheep can have swelling of the face, dermatitis, and wool falling off due to rubbing. You need to remove any St John's Wort plants and keep any eye out for new ones growing. Animals with slight symptoms will resolve once removed from the plants, but more serious symptoms will need veterinary attention.

Send Victoria your animal health queries. Email: vetsforum.csh@archant.co.uk

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