Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 54, Number 4 (July 2001) by Subjects
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Alkaloids as anti-quality factors in plants on western U.S. rangelandsAlkaloids constitute the largest class of plant secondary compounds, occurring in 20 to 30% of perennial herbaceous species in North America. Alkaloid-containing plants are of interest, first because alkaloids often have pronounced physiological reactions when ingested by livestock, and second because alkaloids have distinctive taste characteristics. Thus, alkaloids may kill, injure, or reduce productivity of livestock, and have the potential to directly or indirectly alter diet selection. We review 7 major categories of toxic alkaloids, including pyrrolizidine (e.g., Senecio), quinolizidine (e.g., Lupinus), indolizidine (e.g., Astragalus), diterpenoid (e.g., Delphinium), piperidine (e.g., Conium), pyridine (e.g., Nicotiana), and steroidal (Veratrum-type) alkaloids. Clinically, effects on animal production vary from minimal feed refusal to abortion, birth defects, wasting diseases, agalactia, and death. There are marked species differences in reactions to alkaloids. This has been attributed to rumen metabolism, alkaloid absorption, metabolism, excretion or directly related to their affinity to target tissues such as binding at receptor sites. In spite of alkaloids reputed bitter taste to livestock, some alkaloid-containing plant genera (e.g., Delphinium, Veratrum, Astragalus, Oxytropis, and Lupinus) are often readily ingested by livestock. Management schemes to prevent losses are usually based on recognizing the particular toxic plant, knowing the mechanism of toxicity, and understanding the temporal dynamics of plant alkaloid concentration and consumption by livestock. Once these aforementioned aspects are understood, losses may be reduced by maintaining optimal forage conditions, adjusting grazing pressure and timing of grazing, aversive conditioning, strategic supplementation, changing livestock species, and herbicidal control.
Low density of prickly acacia under sheep grazing in QueenslandPopulations of an introduced woody weed, prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile ssp. indica (Benth.) Brenan syn. Acacia arabica (Lam.) Willd. ssp. indica Benth.), were surveyed at 4 sites in central Queensland. There is a significantly lower frequency of plants of 3 m in height within populations which have been grazed by sheep, indicating that browsing by sheep reduces regeneration. There were higher losses of seedlings at a sheep-grazed site than at cattle-grazed sites. These results support previous assertions that prickly acacia is regenerating more successfully on cattle properties, because cattle both disperse seeds and are less effective herbivores. In regions of low annual rainfall, prickly acacia is capable of forming dense stands (up to 2,700 shrubs ha(-1)) in lowland landscape types. Stands are less dense in upland landscapes (maximum of 718 shrubs ha(-1)). Of most concern is that in regions of high annual rainfall prickly acacia can form extremely dense thickets across most landscape types (up to 3,400 shrubs ha(-1)). We suggest that prickly acacia is most likely to become a management problem on cattle properties, and an extreme problem in high annual rainfall areas. The inclusion of sheep in livestock rotations may be an effective control measure in the Mitchell Grasslands, but this may not always be possible. A high priority is to prevent prickly acacia from expanding its range into equivalent high rainfall areas within Queensland, and also in the Northern Territory, northern New South Wales, and Western Australia. This could be achieved by quarantining livestock which have come from infested properties until seeds have passed through the digestive tract, after about 6 days. Management strategies at the property level should aim to prevent further spread of prickly acacia by controlling cattle movements between paddocks during periods when cattle are ingesting pods and seeds.