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For the week of  October 10 - 16, 2001


Suit claims cattle died from nitrate poisoning

Express Staff Writer

The owners of two south-county ranches have sued a Hagerman feed dealer, alleging that their cattle died from eating hay with a lethally high nitrate content.

Katie Breckenridge and Robert Struthers, owners of the B Bar B and Horseshoe S ranches, filed the suit Sept. 28 in Fifth District Court in Hailey. They are asking for $135,785 in damages from the Salmon Falls Land and Livestock Co.

The plaintiffs claim they bought 50 tons of sudan grass hay grown on land owned or leased by Salmon Falls Land and Livestock in March 2000. The complaint states that the hay was analyzed by toxicologists at the University of Idaho Analytical Sciences Laboratory, who concluded that it caused deaths and abortions among the plaintiffs’ cattle from nitrate poisoning.

Mike Henslee, manager of Salmon Falls Land and Livestock Co., said he had been unaware of the suit and that his company’s insurance provider has been handling its legal matters.

According to "Large Animal Internal Medicine" by Bradford Smith, a standard veterinary textbook, excess nitrate harms livestock by interfering with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Smith states that nitrate accumulation can result from soil type and drought or the presence of certain fertilizers or 2,4-D pesticide.

According to Smith, plants containing more than 1.5 percent dry weight of potassium nitrate can be lethal to livestock.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.