Some common pasture plants and medications are making cattle more sensitive to light this summer, thereby resulting in skin ulcers and tissue death, says Jeremy Powell, veterinarian for the University of Arkansas (UA) ag division.
Photosensitivity, Powell says, is not the same as sunburn. It can originate from otherwise benign crops such as alfalfa or clover. Bermuda grass has also come under suspicion, but it's still uncertain what exactly causes the photosensitivity.
But photosensitivity, which some veterinarians describe as an "allergic reaction to the sun," could be an indicator of something deeper, such as liver damage.
Phil Sims, UA Extension staff chair, says he has received calls from beef producers explaining photosensitivity symptoms like skin falling off animals' legs.
"Seeing the skin fall off your cattle isn't a common occurrence, and your first thought is 'what are we dealing with?'" Sims says.
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