Scotch Broom, Goats and Morning Glory Toxicity

Reader question:    I’ve been told by someone who has 50 goats and rents them out that you shouldn’t let the does eat Scotch broom three months prior to pregnancy as it causes miscarriages or deformed kids.  Our goats have other plants on the menu but it would be difficult to keep them away from Scotch broom.    

scotch broom.jpg

MO-  Let me say right off that I am no expert in livestock and know nothing about goat health or diet.  However, I have lived in broom country and can give you some information an resources to help you find answers.  Scotch broom does contain a number of different alkaloids that are known to be linked to occasional livestock poisoning.  How it influences pregnancies in goats would likely be linked to just how much broom the animal ingests.  In heavily infested wildlands, broom can become the dominant vegetation, and there pregnant rent-a-goats could clearly have problems.  But if your goats nibble broom but are browsing on a wide range of other plants, that may not be enough to have much influence on the pregnancy.  For more information, two resources below give details on the alkaloids and nature of livestock problems with broom: 

Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States

USDA Natural Resource Conservation District  PLANTS database

MO NOTE:  Members of genus Ipomoea, morning glory or bindweed species have significant effects on goats and can cause serious problems in very young and growing individuals. 

morning glory

Reader question:  I don’t think I came in contact with the sap, but I developed facial flushing and slightly swollen throat from Ipomaea species that was in my office for identification.  I am apparently so sensitive to it that despite removing the plant, vacuuming and wiping down surfaces in my office, my face still continues to burn when I have been gone and reenter my office. Have you heard of anything like this? 

MO: Ipomoea sap has varying degrees of toxicity depending on the species you were working with.  However, there should be no residual problems after you cleaned up the area.  The only thing left to check is the filter in your heater/air conditioner/ventilation system in the office.  While it’s very unlikely that’s the cause, a clean filter might solve the problem.