Reduce the Risks of Grazing Summer Weeds in Pasture and Stubbles

Key Points:

  • Weeds springing up in summer pastures and stubbles can be harmful to livestock.
  • Weeds can be the only green forage available in dry stubbles and pastures.
  • Common signs of toxicosis include red faces, yellow and weepy eyes and swollen head.
  • Toxin binders are effective at binding and neutralising the toxins in the weeds.
  • Immune response and tissue repair play a large role in managing toxicosis in livestock.


Signs of toxicity in stock when grazing weeds in pasture and stubbles is a reoccurring issue for producers with weed control both difficult and costly. Weed control and management is an obvious step towards reducing the risks involved, as is controlling where and when stock graze weed-affected pastures. Despite this, there are many scenarios where total aversion is difficult. That is where toxin-binding agents, such as StockMins-Detox, come to the fore and prove their value to animal health.

Plant toxins are secondary metabolites that have largely evolved as defensive mechanisms to combat grazing pressure from animals. There are a vast number of different plant toxins that are of concern for ruminants when grazing weeds. Photosensitisation, jaundice, head, jaw, and eye swelling, and weight loss are all visible signs of plant toxicosis. These symptoms generally stem from a dysfunctional and damaged liver that can have long-term consequences for animal health, production, and welfare. The most encountered weeds that cause these concerns are Hairy Panic, Heliotrope, Caltrop, Paterson’s curse, and Goosefoot.

Hairy Panic toxic weed in pasture Heliotrope toxic weed in pasture Caltrop toxic weed in pasture Goosefoot toxic weed in pasture

Bacterial toxins and mycotoxins are also naturally produced secondary metabolites created from certain fungal and bacterial species. There are many different types of mycotoxins and plant toxins, varying in their toxicity and lethality. Ruminants are less prone to mycotoxicosis compared to non-ruminants; however, their impact on animal health and production should not be understated. Mycotoxins can have a profound effect on the epithelial lining of the gut that can reduce immune function, and nutrient absorption and increase the risk of other pathogenic disorders (notably endotoxicosis from lipopolysaccharides).

Binding and neutralising toxins

StockMins-Detox assists ruminants grazing weeds in pasture, as it contains a high level of broad-spectrum toxin binders, bentonite, and other specifically targeted binding agents. The combination of these ingredients actively helps to bind and neutralise both mycotoxins and endotoxins in the gut before they can damage the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, helping to sustain normal nutrient absorption and prevent immune activation caused by these degenerative changes. Bentonite, a more widely used binding agent, is added for its unique clay properties, allowing for the additional binding of toxins in the rumen.

In combination with these toxin binders, StockMins-Detox contains added sources of inorganic sulphur and molybdenum. Sulphur is added for its role in the detoxification of prussic acid in vivo to form thiocyanate, which can then be excreted in the urine. Molybdenum is present to ‘mop up’ excess dietary copper that could otherwise lead to chronic or acute copper poisoning in animals consuming large amounts of toxic alkaloids (hepatotoxins). Damage from the ingestion of hepatotoxins can cause the liver to alter its normal function thereby accumulating high levels of copper. Under conditions of stress, stored copper can be abruptly released into the blood, often resulting in mortality.

Elevating immune response and protecting the liver

Ingestion of various plant toxins, mycotoxins, and bacterial toxins will cause the immune system to become depressed, further exposing the animal to other pathogenic disorders. The unique blend of antioxidants (vitamins A, D, and E and silymarin), minerals, and essential trace elements help to activate and regulate the immune response. Notably, silymarin acts pharmacologically as a “hepatoprotectant” and can directly nullify and prevent the formation of free radicals, maintain optimal redox balance in the cell, decrease inflammatory response and activate the production of protective molecules. The combination of these processes can help protect and repair the liver while simultaneously managing toxic burdens.

Assists in tissue repair

Prevention is the best form of management; however, the first overt sign of plant toxicosis in livestock is commonly photosensitisation. Common strategies to manage photosensitisation are providing ample shade, moving stock to less offensive paddocks, and providing a diluting feed (hay or silage). The nutritional intervention has not been widely considered, until recently, as a viable management strategy but is understated. Specifically, elevating the dietary intake of organic and inorganic minerals such as zinc and fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin E, have been shown to assist in the repair of damaged tissue. StockMins-Detox utilises these key ingredients to help repair and limit tissue damage incurred when stocks are exposed to toxic weeds.

StockMins-Detox is the first product of its kind available for livestock grazing weeds in pasture and can reduce the effects of toxins in three distinct ways:

  • Protecting against the absorption of a variety of harmful toxins in weeds
  • Stimulates and supports normal liver function
  • Assists with tissue recovery and repair.