A mass cattle death has shocked the people of central Texas, and has prompted a federal investigation.
Three weeks ago, farmer Jerry Abel, who owns an 80-acre farm in Elgin, Texas was horrified to discover 18 of his cows in excruciating pain in the field where he has let them graze for 15 years.
15 of the 18 cattle died shortly afterwards.
“When our trainer first heard the bellowing, he thought our pregnant heifer may be having a calf or something. But when he got down here, virtually all of the steers and heifers were on the ground,” he said. ” Some were already dead, and the others were already in convulsions.”
Early test have shown that the grass, which is a hybrid known as Tifton 85, very likely hay have been the cause of the animals death.
Elgin veterinarian, Dr. Gary Warner discovered, after analyzing the bodies of the animals, that the grass has suddenly begun producing cyanide gas, which in turn poisoned the cattle.
What is even more shocking is the fact that other farmers in the Bastrop County area have also discovered traces of cyanide in their fields of Tifton 85.
“Coming off the drought that we had the last two years, we’re concerned it was a combination of events that led us to this,” Dr. Warner speculated.
Scientist at the U.S Department of Agriculture are studying the Tifton 85 grass to distinguish whether or not it has mutated. Until then most farmers in the Elgin area are keeping their cattle safely away from the pastures of Tifton 85. Though there have been no reports of animal deaths, they aren’t taking chances.