Beware when grazing stressed sorghum crops - Prussic acid poisoning.

For those farmers in drought-affected areas looking to graze stressed or stunted sorghum crops or feed hays made from these crops, please keep in mind the risks associated with prussic acid (cyanide) poisoning.

More information about prussic acids and grazing affected crops can be found on the Qld Govt and NSW Primary Industries websites.

Signs of cyanide poisoning in animals include:

  • rapid laboured breathing

  • frothing at the mouth

  • mucous membranes that are bright red in colour

  • muscle weakness or twitching

  • staggering

  • convulsing

  • unconsciousness

  • death.

Animals eating large amounts of toxic feed will die within 5–15 minutes of developing clinical signs of poisoning. Affected animals rarely survive more than 1–2 hours after consuming lethal quantities.

Samples of suspect crops and hay can be sent to labs for testing before feeding out. There is a 1-2 day turn-around-time for cyanide testing from receipt of the sample at the laboratory. Information realating to collection and postage of samples can be found at the Qld Govt Biosecurity website. Samples can be sent to Health and Food Science Precinct, Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory, Loading Dock 12, 39 Kessels Road, Coopers Plains Qld 4108. The cost of sample processing and testing is approx $80 per plant sample.