Hydrogen cyanide kills 56 cows in Guntur, owner collapses in shock

The cows were grazing in the open and some of them ventured into a field where corn was planted.

Hyderabad: Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) proved deadly for 56 cows that were found dead in Daida village of Gurajala mandal, Guntur district, on Monday morning after grazing on the remains of hybrid corn that contained the poison.

Gundala Lakshmaiah, a farmer had travelled all the way from Nereducharla mandal in Nalgonda district to Guntur with 100 cows at the end of February to ensure that the cows had enough fodder.

On Sunday afternoon, the cows were grazing in the open and some of them ventured into a field where corn was planted.

During the early stages of planting these seeds, and for nearly 20 days after cutting the crop, the remains will contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide which is poisonous to animals. Farmers do not let their animals graze in these fields during this period of time.

Jowar Sudan Grass and Pusa Chari are hybrid varieties that contain cyanogenic glycosides like Furin, Linsido and Linamarin that converts into hydrogen cyanide because of enzyme activity. A 100 mg of corn seeds has roughly 29.16 mg of hydrogen cyanide. HCN content in the plant is high during the early growth stage but decreases with plant maturity making it safe as fodder after 50 days of planting.

Dr Shaik Basheer, a veterinary assistant surgeon who did the post-mortem of the animals said, “The 44 animals that grazed in other fields are in normal condition. These 56 animals were found dead on Monday morning; they had died by 7 pm on Sunday. The poison takes just 15 to 20 minutes to work. It reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the animal. They begin to feel tremors and suffer from respiratory problems and feel weak and die within a few minutes.”

The poison intake is curable if the animals are immediately treated.

Normally 50 grams of sodium thiosulfate is mixed with 200 ml of water and is injected into the animal’s body. Sulfur helps the conversion of cyanide to thiocyanate which is safely excreted in the urine. “We have collected samples of the crop for further investigation but it is an unfortunate accident,” added Dr Basheer.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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