‘Severe lead poisoning’ killed a total of five dairy cows and heifers over the course of six days on a Mayo farm.
Local press, The Mayo News reported that the animals picked up the condition from the commonage land that they were grazing on in the Dererin area of Ballintubber.
An inspection conducted on the land in question following the death of the cattle found that a stone covered in red paint lying in a ditch was identified as “highly toxic lead paint” - the source of poisoning.
The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous told the Mayo News: “The commonage is sectioned off with electric fencing wire, and on Wednesday, June, 27th, I found one heifer in the bog hole.”
The farmer said the heifer was frothing at the mouth, but didn’t appear to be in “great shape” and died within a few hours.
The dairy farmer contacted his local veterinary practitioner, George O’Malley when he found a second heifer in a trench displaying the same symptoms. Despite the administration of an injection, she also died the following day.
Before the vet was due to visit the holding to conduct a post-mortem, the farmer found the third heifer wandering around; when the vet went to treat her, she was also found dead. Two more animals displayed the symptoms and were put down.
“Old red-lead paint”
On the following Monday, the farmer brought the third dead animal - a cow - to Sligo for lab testing to determine the cause of death, which was identified as “severe lead poisoning.”
“It was probably old red-lead paint that was used on carts years ago and dumped there, and the cows might have licked it.” The farmer told The Mayo News.
George O’Malley advised farmers to “watch their cows every day and be aware of all the poisonous plants in the ditches.”