20 May 2010

As if drought wasn't enough to cope with...

6:46 am on 20 May 2010

Northland farmers trying to cope with the drought, now have something else to worry about: grass staggers.

There have been several outbreaks of the neurological disorder known as paspalum staggers on farms across the region.

Similar to ryegrass staggers, the disorder is caused by a fungal toxin in pasture. When eaten by stock, the toxin causes tremors, poor muscle coordination and, in some cases, death.

Northland veterinarian Dr Angus Campbell says drought places extra stress on grass and that causes the toxin levels to go even higher.

Farmers need to keep an eye on their stock, Dr Campbell says, and if they spot any signs of staggers they need to take the stock off the infected pasture and feed them hay or silage.