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Re: [nafex] Off-topic, sort of: tent caterpillars & equine abortions


There are all kinds of "experts" everywhere, only too willing to mug for
the media, regardless of the reliability of their findings, or who is
funding them, or telling them their findings before they start.

Yes, man has an influence on nature, but the number of obstacles that
mother nature throws at animals are myriad, and man in not responsible for
every bad turn.

Take straw for instance...  Last year was damp, and cool, perfect weather
for plant fungi and disease.  If I bed the pigs with straw from last year
their bodies will be stressed by the toxins/fungi accumulated in the
straw and they will develop health problems.  Straw from previous years is
fine and causes no problems. The only variation in these pigs lives is
the straw, so we have narrowed it down.

The same thing that happens in the barn, will be happening in the wild
too.  It is all too soon to be forgetting about the odd weather last
growing season, the ramifications of which will be around a while.

I wonder if the media realizes that they earning a reputation that excedes
that of used car salesmen, and lawyers by continually pumping out
worthless information with the same vigor they do substansiated fact.

Just one guys opinion anyway.


Thomas Olenio
Ontario, Hardiness Zone 6a

On Fri, 1 Jun 2001, Lucky Pittman wrote:

> Over in the central part of KY - in the Bluegrass area, around Lexington, 
> they've been experiencing an exponential increase in the number of late 
> term abortions/stillbirths in mares, as well as a marked increase in early 
> embryonic mortality.  Same thing's been noted in Ohio and West Virginia, 
> but it didn't make the press like it did around Lexington, which touts 
> itself as the 'Horse Capitol of the World".
> Things started happening a week or two prior to the Kentucky Derby, and 
> during the course of the investigation, the spokespersons at the Univ. of 
> KY have been throwing out a number of possible(though sometimes not all 
> that plausible) causes, ranging from endophytic fungi in the grass, nitrate 
> fertilization of pastures last fall, mold growth/mycotoxin production in 
> forage damaged by our early April freeze.
> Now, they've settled in on tent caterpillars.
> They were very prominent this spring, and as we all know, wild cherry 
> (P.serotina in this area) is their preferred host plant.  The latest 'trial 
> balloon' the UK-Gluck folks have thrown out is that the tent caterpillars 
> ate the cherry leaves, concentrated the cyanide/cyanogenic compounds in 
> their feces & body parts, and then the mares became poisoned by 
> consuming/inhaling caterpillar feces or the caterpillars themselves.   This 
> theory suggests that the mares themselves were not affected, but that 
> cyanide levels were high enough to cause fetal/embryonic death.
> I realize that the folks at UK were under immense pressure from the entire 
> horse industry, but personally, I don't buy it, not for one 
> minute.  They're gonna have to show me some pretty convincing evidence that 
> there's any significant amount of HCN or any other cyanogenic compound in 
> TC feces, and that these mares were gobbling up enough of it to induce 
> abortion - and prove to me that there's a significant level of cyanide in 
> fetal tissues.
> Some of these cases occurred on farms where there were NO cherry trees, and 
> while I've not spent a tremendous time in the horse country around 
> Lexington, I would suspect that most cherries would have long ago been 
> removed from the properties, due to the danger inherent in livestock 
> consuming wilted leaves if/when trees blew over, or big limbs were broken out.
> Cherry leaves are only a problem in the wilted state - I've seen cattle & 
> horses consume fresh green leaves straight off the tree, and fallen, yellow 
> leaves off the ground, with no problem whatsoever.
> Well, anyway, if you'd care to look at any of the stuff pertaining to this 
> theory, look here for several linked stories.
> http://health/bloodhorse.com
> Louis L. "Lucky" Pittman, Jr., DVM
> Veterinary Pathologist/Asst. Prof.
> Murray St. Univ.-Breathitt Veterinary Ctr.
> Hopkinsville, KY
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