Friday, July 1, 2022

Cow deaths accidental

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report into the deaths of 122 dairy cows on December 5 last year in Taranaki has found the cows were accidentally poisoned.

MPI compliance manager Wellington/Taranaki Mike Green said no further compliance action would be taken.

“Witnesses spoken to and test results have shown the cows were accidentally poisoned. This happened when they drank contaminated water from a tank previously used for the application of chemicals to farmland,” he said.

“The cows have converted the contaminant into ammonia which, when enough water was ingested, resulted in a lethal dosage. Tests indicated the level of contaminant was such that a cow would have to drink approximately 18-20 litres of the contaminated water to receive a fatal dose. Cows can easily drink that amount of water in one visit.”
As the investigation into the incident was done internally a report would not be released to the public.

The cows, which belonged to Chris and Catherine Cook who farm at Oeo Rd, near Manaia, were part of a herd of 600. The afternoon had been the first hot day of the season and a container, which had stored urea, was used to top up water troughs as the farm’s water system was not keeping up with demand from the cows.

Symptoms of ammonia poisoning are cows are wobbly on their feet and sometimes aggressive as well as salivating, bloating and having difficulty breathing. Death can be within 30 minutes or up to two to three hours later, usually from fluid build-up in the lungs.

Emergency treatment is to empty the rumen contents so no more ammonia can be absorbed into the cow’s blood system and neutralising it by pouring four to five litres of vinegar into the stomach. On the Taranaki property this was done by vets who had already stabbed the rumen suspecting an outbreak of bloat.

“The lesson is, only use containers for what they are intended for,” vet Stephen Hopkinson, of Taranaki Veterinary Centre, who attended the cows, said.
The Cook family declined to comment.

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