Herbicide poisoning



Note:  About half the people who are starting out with goats have obtained them for the purpose of "clearing brush." There may be some irony then in have a page on herbicide use. Generally, we see little need for killing plants when you have goats around, but here is some basic information that you may find useful. There are new herbicides coming to market almost daily it seems; most of these are much safer than the old ones. We encourage you to read the labels very carefully for these will usually contain information regarding toxicity and warnings about use around animals. Because of liability issues, we are reluctant to recommend for or against any specific brand names. These matters are addressed in some of the articles to which you can find links below. Read them carefully.


The following is a rather exhaustive list of the symptoms that CAN occur as the result of herbicide poisoning. It would not be expected that they would occur all at once. The most common ones are in BOLD type.


Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
Rapid respiration
Tachycardia (rapid pulse)

Corneal opacity, cataracts

Irritation of oral mucosa

Skin irritation
Yellowing of skin around mouth
Yellowing of hair around nose and feet

Loss of weight
Loss of appetite
Rapid prostration

Muscle weakness, especially in hind quarters
Muscle tremors
Nervousness, restlessness, tenseness
Clonic convulsions and death
Coma, sudden death with rapid rigor mortis

Other diseases to consider:

Difficulty rating:   [bold type applies]

DEFINITELY a matter for your veterinarian
Do these things until you can reach the vet
You may be able to handle it youself; for the moderately experienced
Fairly simple; give it a try!

Treatment options:

Treatment measures are specific to each chemical used. At proper application levels of the newer herbicides (glyphosate, 2,4-D) most vegetation will not contain enough residue to be harmful to livestock. If contact with the skin is a concern or if skin irritation should occur, the animal should be bathed. Activated charcoal preparations can be administered orally. If the symptoms appear as the result of some of the older and more dangerous herbicides such as arsenicals, carbamates, dinitro and dipyridyl compounds, chlorates, immediate help from your veterinarian would be recommended.

Other goatwisdom pages:  general page on poisons

WWW Resources

Univ of Illinois

Oregon State University [A]

Oregon State University [B]

CONSULTANT ©   Cornell's Diagnostic program