The carcass of an animal that died after consuming a poisonous weed in Mochongoi, Baringo South. [Mercy Kulei, Standard]
At least 300 cattle have died in two weeks after consuming highly nitrate-concentrated fodder.
Farmers in Mochongoi division said the animals died within 20 minutes of consuming the plant.
Following the prolonged drought, the farmers were forced to resort to the weed to feed their animals.
Charles Waseges, one of the affected farmers, said his three cows started experiencing breathing difficulties after consuming the weed he got from his farm.
“My three cows died minutes after consuming the weed. I called the vet but it was too late to save them,” said Waseges.
Elijah Kaibos, another affected farmer, said six of his animals died over the weekend after feeding on the weed from his maize farm.
A veterinary officer, Robert Kichung, said more than 60 families suffered the loss in a span of two weeks.
“Nitrate poisoning occurs as a result of eating some weeds. Weeds such as black jack contain high levels of nitrates. However, the most common source is inorganic nitrate fertilizer consumed either straight from an open bag, via grazing an over-fertilised field or via water run-off from heavily fertilised fields,” he explained.
The incident comes days after dozens of livestock in Chekalini in Lugari, Kakamega County, died after they were immersed in a communal dip.
The Chekalini Cattle Dip had collapsed over a decade ago, before being rehabilitated. The affected farmers said they took 230 animals to the dip but 180 were affected, leading to their death.
One of the victims, Andrew Situma, revealed the dip had collapsed and was not operational for over a decade before the county government intervened and had it rehabilitated.
“Farmers saw it fit to take their animals to the dip but the unfortunate thing happened. Six of my cows were affected. When I arrived home my cows became docile and lost appetite,” he said, adding that he tried feeding them but they couldn’t eat.
One of them died prompting him to call a veterinary officer to inspect the carcass to establish the cause of the death.
“The officer ruled that the cow died of poisoning. The other animals are still weak, cannot feed or even move around,” Mr Situma said.
Thomas Maloba also lost his bull estimated to be worth between Sh60,000 and Sh100,000. “The cows have been my source of income. This is a big blow,” Mr Maloba said.