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Silver Thunder

126 Posts

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  11:47:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit Silver Thunder's Homepage
Well the house is almost done and now we are working on the pastures. Right now we are getting ready to plant orchard grass. We will build shelters for shade but we also want trees. We live in North East Tennessee, does anyone have any recommendations. In California they just loved the fruitless mulberry but we haven't been able to find it here.

Thanks for you help

Chuck and Nancy LaBresh
Silver Thunder Alpacas
Greeneville, Tennessee


241 Posts

Posted - 03/26/2005 :  01:45:04 AM  Show Profile

No walnut trees especially black, pine of any type, oak, and maple especially red. Too late in the evening to give reasons. Get something fast growing. You should have lots of options in your area.

David Colby
Weminuche Huacaya Alpacas
Farm Manager, Xanadu Farm Alpacas
Platteville CO 80651
801.991.3893 (fax)
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688 Posts

Posted - 03/26/2005 :  09:57:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit alpacastarr's Homepage
Originally posted by Silver Thunder

we also want trees. We live in North East Tennessee, does anyone have any recommendations.

Hi Nancy - I'm just over the mountain from you. The list of trees to avoid is long - check with the ag office for a list of toxic trees. Some trees are toxic in all or some of their parts, some are toxic all year round other just some times of the year. Some trees are not toxic but have other annoying properties like sticky sap or spiny balls or other messy litter that gets into fiber. Some trees are simply dangerous - weak branches that break easily. Alpacas enjoy munching on stems and bark so whatever tree you plant has to be protected from their busy mouths!

Here's what I have in my pastures:

Black Walnut - I've had no problems with the trees growing in the pasture or the fallen fruits but would not put any black walnut wood chips anywhere they stand or bed down.

Tulip Poplar - people say the flower petals or some remnant of the flower is sticky and gets caught in fiber. I haven't had that happen.

Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven) - considered a weedy invasive non-native pest tree by horticulturists and me. It grows fast and provides dappled shade but it does break branches off and sets a huge fruit crop and vast multitude of offspring trees that you have to constantly manage to prevent them from taking over. Messy litter from the branchlets.

Oaks white and red - people say the acorns are toxic. I've not had any problem but maybe my squirrel "herd" is faster than the alpacas in eating them.

Apple - They love'em! Nice shade and the fruit is a bonus but it's slow growing. Protect the bark - they will chew it to death! Mine's dead now so they get no more fruit.

Osage - I hate the fruits, the alpacas ignore them. They don't seem to chew the bark or leaves. Very nice dense shade canopy. I'd have more of these.

Sycamore - Nice shade, and they nibble the leaves some but don't seem to go after the bark much. Bears spiny ball fruits - I've not had any turn up in the fleece but they say it is a problem.

Holly - Mature specimens make a very nice shade. They don't seem to eat the fruit (which is good because I think it would be toxic), leaves or bark.

Man! I didn't really realize I had so my kinds!
Alder - I also have an alder (I think) which they don't bother but it doesn't give much shade either.
Black Locust - I have some black locust outside the fence that gives a nice dappled shade but they're supposedly toxic and besides they have long, nasty thorns and they sprout like crazy so I don't really like it much.
Pines - white and "jack" - I have some pines outside the fenceline. I like them there because they cast shade into the pasture without the whole sticky resin thing. Plus they cast shade on those "surprise!" summer-hot spring days before the alpacas are sheared and before the other trees have leafed out.
Maples - Oh, yeah, I have maples, too. They eat the leaves and would eat the bark if I let them at it. I haven't had a problem but people say they're toxic.

Hope that helps

Venezia Dream Farm
Asheville, NC
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163 Posts

Posted - 03/26/2005 :  10:12:16 AM  Show Profile
Hi Nancy,
Congrats on the new house! We built ours 4 years ago and what a job! Great feeling when its done. We have 10.5 acres on what use to be a corn field and a tree nursery so we have plenty of pine trees and some ash to choose from. Pines are ok but we only skirted then around the fence due to the sap and pine cones. They are great for that shade before the other trees put out their full foliage and of course when the real hot season dries up the leaves. Maples are the other ones we have. No red maple. We only use sugar maple. The alpacas find the leaves to be tasty. Silver maple is a very fast growing maple but not sure if it is toxic to these animals.
Good luck and enjoy your new home,
Menagerie Farm Alpacas
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Silver Thunder

126 Posts

Posted - 03/26/2005 :  12:10:07 PM  Show Profile  Visit Silver Thunder's Homepage
Thank you all so much for your help. I think I will get at least one or two apple trees, it sounds like the alpacas really enjoy them.
A few maples sound like they would be pretty too, but I understand I will need to stay away from the red maple. David there are several oak trees along the fence line but they will not be in the pasture and of course are on the wrong side to give shade. Will they be ok if they are that far from the pasture.

Thanks again

Chuck and Nancy LaBresh
Silver Thunder Alpacas
Greeneville, Tennessee
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241 Posts

Posted - 03/26/2005 :  7:07:38 PM  Show Profile
In: A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America, Knight A.P. and Walter R.G. (Eds.)
Publisher: Teton NewMedia, Jackson WY (
Internet Publisher: International Veterinary Information Service, Ithaca NY (, 2003; B0507.0101

Quercus spp. - Fagaceae (Oak family)

Some 60 species of oak grow in North America in a wide variety of habitats ranging from moist, rich soils of hard wood forests to drier mountainous areas.

Ranging from large trees to shrubs, oaks have alternate, simple, toothed, or lobed dark green glossy leaves. The leaves may be deciduous or persistent depending on the species of oak. The plants are monoecious with the staminate flowers occurring in long catkins and the pistallate flowers occurring singly or in small clusters. The fruit, an acorn, is a nut partially enveloped by an involucre of scales. Two common species of oak growing in western North America commonly associated with livestock poisoning are scrub oak and shinnery oak.

Q. gambelii (Gambels oak, scrub oak) is a shrub or small tree reaching heights of 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters). It grows in dense stands in the dry foothills and mountain slopes up to altitudes of 9000 feet (2,743 meters).

Q. havardii (Shinnery oak) is a shrub that seldom attains heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters). It is confined more to the lower elevations and sandy soils of southwestern North America.
Principal Toxin

The principal toxin is gallotannin, a polyhydroxphenolic combination of tannic and gallic acid. The tannins found in the leaves, bark, and acorns of oaks produce poisoning through their effect on the intestinal tract and kidneys. Gallotannins are hydrolyzed in the rumen to smaller molecular weight compounds including gallic acid, pyrogallol, and resorcinol. These compounds react with cell proteins to denature them, with resulting cell death. Most severe lesions occur in the kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. In small quantities the rumen microflora detoxify the tannins, and only when large amounts of tannic acid are eaten and bypass the rumen does poisoning occur. Goats and wild ruminants are apparently better able to detoxify tannic acid than other livestock because they have a tannin-binding protein in their saliva that neutralizes tannic acid. Goats have been used effectively to browse on oaks thereby reducing the spread of the oak and increasing the grazing capacity of the range. Oaks at any stage of growth are poisonous, but they are particularly toxic when the leaf and flower buds are just opening in the spring. Consumption of oak buds can be markedly increased in a heavy, late spring snowstorm , when cattle browse the oak that protrudes above the snow. As the leaves mature they become less toxic. Ripe acorns are less toxic than when green. Cattle sheep, horses, and pigs are susceptible to oak poisoning.

Clinical Signs
Signs of oak poisoning will vary according to the quantity of oak consumed. Initially affected animals stop eating, become depressed, and develop intestinal stasis. Excessive thirst and frequent urination may be observed. The feces are hard and dark initially, but a black tarry diarrhea often occurs later in the course of poisoning. Teeth grinding and a hunched back are often indicative of abdominal pain. Severe liver and kidney damage is detectable by marked elevations in serum liver enzymes, creatinine, and urea nitrogen. Icterus, red-colored urine, and dehydration are further signs encountered in oak poisoning. Animals may live for 5 to 7 days after the onset of clinical signs.

A mucoid, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is a common finding in oak poisoning. Hemorrhages on various organs and excessive amounts of fluid in the peritoneal and pleural spaces are often present. The kidneys are usually pale swollen and covered with small hemorrhages. Histologically kidney tubular necrosis, and liver necrosis are characteristic of oak poisoning.

Animals should be removed from the oak and given supportive care in the form of fresh water and good quality hay. Oral administration of a calcium hydroxide solution is helpful in neutralizing residual tannic acid in the rumen. Intravenous fluids should be given to rehydrate severely affected animals and maintain kidney function. Animals that continue to eat have a much better prognosis. Cattle that survive oak poisoning appear to have compensatory weight gains and appear to do well.

Grain or pelleted rations containing 10 to 15 percent calcium hydroxide are beneficial in preventing oak poisoning if cattle have to graze pastures overgrown with oak brush. Goats are effective biological controls and may be used to browse oak for range management purposes because they are unaffected by the tannins in the oak.

Acorn Calf Syndrome
The acorn calf syndrome is not related to oak poisoning attributed to gallotannins but is encountered in calves born to cows on a low plain of nutrition and which have consumed quantities of acorns. Acorn calves are born with laxity of the joints, shortened legs (dwarfism), deformed hooves, and either a domed skull or long narrow head. Compared to normal calves, the acorn calves are stunted and grow poorly. The acorn calf syndrome has also been reported in cows that graze heavily on lupine during mid pregnancy. The toxic principal responsible for this congenital syndrome has not been determined. Protein malnutrition and the presence of a teratogen may be involved in the development of the acorn calf syndrome.

Black Walnut
Juglans nigra - Juglandaceae (Walnut family)

About 15 species of walnuts are widely distributed throughout the world; 6 species are native to North America. Most are deciduous trees growing to 60 feet in height. The black walnut is most commonly found in cultivation, where it is extensively used for its wood, aromatic oils, and edible nuts.

Black walnuts are large trees with rough dark brown bark, with pinnate leaves to 50 cm long and 11 to 23 leaflets. Male and female flowers are produced separately; the male flowers have 12-cm catkins, and the female flowers are 0.5 to 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) long with yellow-green stigmas. The fruits are ovoid, single hard- shelled nuts containing the edible fruit.

Principal Toxin
The toxin responsible for black walnut toxicosis in horses is not known. Juglone (5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone), present in the roots, bark, nuts, and pollen of the walnut tree, is possibly involved with poisoning in horses. Juglone is found in other members of the walnut family including English walnuts, butternuts, hickories, and pecans. Walnut trees are allelopathic, meaning they secrete chemical substances through their roots to inhibit the growth of other plants in the vicinity. Consequently, many plants will not grow under walnut trees.

Horses become poisoned if they are exposed to the wood shavings of black walnuts that are used for bedding. Bedding containing as little as 20 percent of black walnut shavings can cause the development of laminitis in horses. It is not necessary for horses to eat walnut shavings to develop laminitis. Pollen and the leaves in the autumn are also toxic to horses.

The variability of laminitis, edema of the lower legs, colic, and other systemic signs associated with black walnut shavings is poorly understood. The clinical signs are not simply related to contact of the horse's skin with the walnut shavings. Purified juglone applied topically to the feet of horses causes mild dermatitis but does not cause laminitis. However, horses experimentally treated with aqueous extracts of black walnut via nasogastric tube consistently develop acute laminitis, indicating that toxicity is due in part to the ingestion or inhalation of a toxic substance present in black walnut. It has also been postulated that juglone or other substances act as haptens to induce toxicity. Experimental evidence indicates that the toxin in black walnuts does not directly cause contraction of the digital vessels responsible for the laminitis, but it appears to enhance vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the presence of catecholamines and corticosteroids.

Fallen walnuts that have become moldy may contain the mycotoxin penitrem A, which is a neurotoxin capable of poisoning dogs and other animals.

Clinical Signs
Naturally occurring black walnut toxicosis in horses is characterized by depression, edema of the lower legs, lameness, colic, and respiratory distress. The severity of lameness depends on the duration and severity of laminitis. If affected horses are removed from the source of the black walnut shavings in the early stages of laminitis and are treated for the laminitis, they recover without the severe consequences of hoof deformity and third phalanx rotation attributable to laminitis.

Until the toxin and conditions causing black walnut toxicosis are better understood, it is a wise precaution to avoid bedding horses with wood shavings containing shavings from walnuts. Similarly black walnut trees should not be voluntarily planted in horse pastures. Fallen, moldy walnuts should also be removed to prevent animals gaining access to them.

Wood shavings from bitterwood trees (Quassia simarouba), a tree indigenous to Central and South America, also contain irritant compounds that can cause blister- like lesions on the lips, nose, and around the eyes of horses that are bedded on the shavings. Horses that eat the shavings may also develop lesions around the anus.

Black Locust
Robinia pseudoacacia
New Mexican Black Locust
Robinia neomexicana
Fabaceae (Legume family)

Usually around dwellings and along fence rows, black locust is common in the southwestern states. It occasionally forms dense stands. Robinia neomexicana often grows along streams and in valleys.

Black locust is a small tree up to 70 feet (21 meters) tall. The trunk is straight and slender; branches are spiny and glabrous when young. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with entire, elliptical leaflets in 3 to 10 pairs. The individual flowers are showy, white, and pealike, forming drooping racemes clusters, 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) long. The fruit is a straight, flat, many-seeded brown legume pod.

Robinia neomexicana differs from R. pseudoacacia in that it has rose-pink flowers, hairy leaflets, finely haired young twigs and glandular hairy pods.

Principal Toxin
Robin, a lectin, is similar to but less toxic than ricin found in castor beans. The bark and seeds have the highest concentrations of lectins; the flowers are not toxic.

Note: Locust trees of the genus Gleditsia, commonly referred to as honey locusts, are unrelated to the black locust and are not poisonous.

Mistletoes (Phoradendron spp.) and Viscum spp. (English mistletoe) also contain toxic lectins that can cause severe gastrointestinal irritation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Cardiovascular collapse with bradycardia and hypotension may occur when a large dose of mistletoe has been eaten. Animals are rarely poisoned by mistletoe. Children are most likely to be poisoned after eating the white berries when mistletoe is brought into the house for festive occasions.

In all seriousness, even alfalfa and grass can be poisonous given the right conditions.

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