Is there any relatively easy treatment for acorn toxicity?

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Buck Randall

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@Buck Randall and @Lucky_P , I have always heard that mixing calcium in the minerals will help buffer the stomach against acorns. Your opinion?
My cure was to fence out the woods and cut any oak trees I couldn't fence out.
Where I'm at the toxicity is rare enough that I don't know anyone taking preventative measures. I've never tried anything other than advising people to not let cows get too hungry around oak trees. Lucky P probably knows better. This is right up a pathologist's alley.
 

Banjo

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Maybe others have had different experiences, but I've never seen cows have trouble with acorns on decent pasture.
That makes sense....i have cows that just camp out so to speak under oak trees and just scour the ground with no problems, but they were on real good pasture
 

HDRider

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Tannins. They're GI irritants, nephrotoxic and hepatotoxic in high doses. Some animals appear to be more sensitive than others.

I once had a client who complained that her goat would be "off" intermittently. I could never find anything wrong with him, but she insisted that something wasn't right. One day I showed up to examine him while he was out in the pasture. The owner grabbed a bucket and shook it to get his attention which made him come running. When he got there, she poured out a bunch of acorns. "Oh, he just loves these". Mystery solved.
How is a deer so different than a goat eating acorns?
 

HDRider

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How is a deer so different than a goat eating acorns?
Deer have proline-rich tannin-binding salivary proteins, which allow them to eat acorns and other high-tannin foodstuffs with no issue. Goats also have tannin-binding salivary proteins, but they are different from the proline-rich ones found in deer saliva. Cattle, sheep, horses lack any of these tannin-binding salivary proteins, so are much more affected by the tannins/gallotannins present in acorns.
I just saw this
 

farmerjan

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Hogs also must have some method of protecting their guts from the tannins as they have been run on acorn woods for years and taste amazing when run on acorns.
And we had a couple of cows that would rather go find acorns than eat the real good hay in the ring 200 ft away. So we tend to close the gates and keep them out until late winter when the acorns are not as easy to find and probably are softer and not as appetizing. Mostly we graze the fields with oak trees in the summer months and they benefit from the shade and then get shut out for several months.
 

Lucky_P

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Like Banjo, I've seen cattle ignore plenty of good quality forage in pastures to camp out underneath oaks during big mast seasons, essentially eating themselves to death on acorns.

I've seen the following recommendation for feeding calcium hydroxide, but have no personal experience doing so: "Feeding 1kg/head/day of calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime) can significantly reduce the risk of poisoning"
IDK how I'd get cows to consume 2.2 lbs of hydrated lime per day...
 
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greybeard

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From what I've read, it wouldn't be 2.2 lbs/day. You would have to mix it with a molasses to prevent it from concentrating in the bottom of a bucket, and then mix with a sweet feed and just hope they get enough down.
Also, it wasn't (to me anyway) presented as a treatment once they show signs of tannin toxin, but as a preventative.

The best way to prevent acorn poisoning is to keep cattle away from acorns, but if you fence off an area covered with acorns, you may have to leave the fence up for a while. Acorns retain high levels of tannic acid for several months.

You can partially protect mature cows grazing on acorn-laden pastures by feeding them 4 pounds of the following mixture each day — cottonseed meal, whole cottonseed or ground soybeans (40 percent), cottonseed hulls or corn (44 percent), hydrated lime (10 percent) and liquid molasses or vegetable oil (6 percent). Use liquid molasses with either whole cottonseed or ground soybeans.

For calves, feed 2 pounds of the mixture per head per day in a creep feeder.

The goal is to get the mature cows to consume about 0.4 pound of hydrated lime each day. Other mixes that provide this rate of intake can be used, but because hydrated lime is unpalatable, the mix should generally contain no more than 10 percent lime. It is difficult to thoroughly mix hydrated lime in supplemental feeds, so molasses or vegetable oil is recommended to prevent the lime form settling out of the mixture.
That would be I think, around 7 oz of hydrated lime/day.
https://www.farmprogress.com/livestock/watch-cattle-acorn-poisoning
 

Lucky_P

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Thanks gb. That seemed like an AWFUL LOT of lime to consume daily... and I always thought you had to be careful with hydrated lime, as it was caustic when combined with water(maybe I'm misremembering)... but it came from a governmental animal health agency website... go figure...
 

BC

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This is an old recipe I got years ago from the County Agent:
If a producer is concerned about acorn poisoning in his herd, the following ration can be fed to cattle at 3-4 lb/head/day for adult cattle (1-2 lb/head/day for calves):

– 44% cottonseed or soybean meal,
– 40% dehydrated alfalfa meal, corn or cotton seed hulls,
– 6% vegetable oil or molasses and
– 10% hydrated lime

The goal is to get cows to consume around 0.4 pound of hydrated lime per day. The use of molasses or vegetable oil is important to keep the hydrated lime from settling out of the ration and to increase palatability. Cattle that are not commonly fed grain should be slowly acclimated to consuming the full ration. In addition to the abovementioned supplementation, providing cattle with additional food sources will cause them to be less likely to search for acorns while grazing short pasture.
 
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greybeard

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If anyone knows (Lucky_P?) I would be interested to know what it is that the lime does to prevent tannin poisoning. In 'layman' terms if possible.
It's my understanding that one of the major problem areas in acorn ingestion is what it does to the kidney function. How does hydrated lime prevent that..is it a pH thing?
 

Buck Randall

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If anyone knows (Lucky_P?) I would be interested to know what it is that the lime does to prevent tannin poisoning. In 'layman' terms if possible.
It's my understanding that one of the major problem areas in acorn ingestion is what it does to the kidney function. How does hydrated lime prevent that..is it a pH thing?
Hydrated lime binds to the tannins. I am not sure exactly how that mechanism alters the toxicity, but my best guess would be that it hinders absorption from the GI tract. That would explain why it only works for prevention, and not treatment.
 

mac

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Acorn production is cyclical. A bumper crop of acorns, when acorns carpet the ground, is a mast year and may occur every 2-10 years. Trees can be examined ahead of time before acorns fall. Binoculars are helpful for this.

Cattle can become addicted to acorns. Once that happens, even horse mounted wranglers with dogs may not be able to drive all of them out of the woods. The ones rounded up may be beyond saving, refusing sweet feed and cubes put right in front of them.

Our place is on the verge of the Post Oak Savanna and Pineywoods Texas Ecoregions. 2013 was an exceptional mast year. The woods that had provided our cattle with shelter and browse for decades became a poisonous forest. A terrible, tragic and costly lesson.
 
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Yeah, they’ll eat them when there’s nothing else. Friend of mine, Stephenville, couldn’t get to the leased pasture for two-three days, sudden extreme medical emergency. He found most dead, others sick, to vet, liver failure.
 

Sent Grace

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I’m wondering if it is possible that the answer is - they are different types of acorns. Could all of my acorns really be white oak acorns? I’ve heard there’s a difference. I have plenty of oak trees and acorns and hickory nuts throughout my woods and both my horses and my cattle eat the acorns and hickory nuts - so far - 12 plus years - with no problem - but they also have a full variety of other things to eat so maybe they’re just not overdoing it. Or - are they are different oaks.
 

kenny thomas

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White oak and white oak family are the preferred acorns for all animals. Don't think I have ever had a cow eat Red Oak acorns. Deer and wild animals will eat them after the white oaks are gone.
 

Lucky_P

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Most all the cases of acorn toxicity I've seen were associated with white oak species... in MO, those big ol' bur oak acorns were the culprt. Here in KY, it's usually our eastern white oak. In heavy mast years, the ground underneath those trees may be carpeted with acorns.
I can hardly walk across my yard right now, for turning my ankle on those golfball-sized bur oak acorns.
Back home in AL, I'd see the cows hoovering up those tiny little water oak acorns(it's in the red oak group, and was the predominant oak on our farm)... but I never knowingly saw a case of acorn poisoning on that farm... and they spent a lot of time in the woods.
The tannins are somewhat different between the red & white oak group, but all are capable of causing acorn toxicosis. White oak acorns typically have lower tannin levels than those of red oaks... so are more palatable, and may lend themselves more to overconsumption, as a result.

As a group, red oak acorns have a higher oil content than the whites... I've been working with a couple of groups of folks who are selecting high-oil red oak species selections (and bitternut hickory) for pressing the oil for culinary purposes... tannins are water-soluble, so are left behind when the oil is pressed out. Here's the guy leading the pack, Sam Thayer: https://foragerchef.com/acorn-oil/
Looks like water oak and Southern Red oak may be the best candidates... the deeper orange the acorn 'meat', the better the oil, it seems.
 
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The acorns the cows were eating near here were what we call a pin oak but i'm pretty sure that is the same thing as what people in the southeast call a water oak. Little acorns about the size of those chestnuts you see for sale this time of year. Pin oaks are about the only thing bearing acorns this year.

White oaks make a lot bigger acorn and didn't make any or very few.
 

kenny thomas

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The acorns the cows were eating near here were what we call a pin oak but i'm pretty sure that is the same thing as what people in the southeast call a water oak. Little acorns about the size of those chestnuts you see for sale this time of year. Pin oaks are about the only thing bearing acorns this year.

White oaks make a lot bigger acorn and didn't make any or very few.
Finally something I know about!!
Yes pin oaks are in the Red Oak Family.
 

Lucky_P

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Common names sometimes get us in trouble. Common names in some areas are not even the same as the 'commonly accepted' common name, in some instances.
Take 'tulip tree' for example... in most areas, it means Liriodendron tulipifera, aka 'tulip poplar' or 'yellow poplar' - which is not even a true poplar (Populus species) , while in other areas it may be used to refer to any number of the spring-blooming deciduous hybrid magnolias, like Magnolia x souleangeana...aka 'Japanese magnolia', or one of the 'Little Girl' hybrids of M. liliflora, etc.

Pin oak (Q.palustris) and Water oak (Q.nigra) are both members of the red oak group, but their leaves look nothing like one another, and while pin oak acorns are typically quite small, they dwarf the typical water oak acorn.
 

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