Warning on lead

South Western Times

Producers are being reminded to remove or fence off items containing lead from grazing paddocks after several recent cattle deaths on two South West properties.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development veterinary officer Kevin Hepworth said three calves from one property and eight steers from another had died from lead poisoning after being exposed to old and burnt lead batteries.

“Stock owners should be aware that batteries, particularly burnt ones, old machinery, sump oil and painted items are all sources of lead and present both a risk of poisoning and residues,” Dr Hepworth said.

“Owners are reminded to ensure they carry out a property risk assessment that identifies possible lead sources on-farm.

“These lead sources should then be permanently fenced off or removed from the farm.”

Dr Hepworth said cattle tended to have the highest risk of lead poisoning because of their inquisitive nature and their tendency to “taste test” items.

“Animals affected by lead poisoning may become blind, unresponsive to their surroundings or stumble into fences or other obstacles, and die,” Dr Hepworth said.

“Preventing residues in meat and meat products is critical for human food safety and WA’s ongoing access to valuable export markets.”

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