Thousands of sheep in Australia are believed to have died after eating a poisonous plant that makes them “bash their heads on posts and rocks until they crack open”.
The usually-rare toxic plant, misleadingly named the “Darling pea”, has spread rapidly in the aftermath of bushfires in New South Wales – which themselves caused devastation for sheep farmers in the area.
Now vets have said that many of the animals which survived the fires face a new and highly addictive threat.
The plant, from the Swainsona family of desert peas native to Australia, has toxins which build up when sheep graze on it for extended periods. It attacks an enzyme involved in metabolism, ultimately crippling the animal’s central nervous system.
There is no cure, Mr McKinnon said, other than to “get the animals off it in time”. “But if they've been on it too long the damage has been done and it doesn't repair to where it should be,” he said.
Usually if a plant is toxic to an animal they won't eat it. Or at least that's what I thought.