Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
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Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952
Partridge pea is a warm-season legume commonly used in wildlife seed mixes. Conservation Reserve Program lands are often seeded with these wildlife mixes. Partridge pea provides good nutrition and cover for birds and other wildlife. The current drought has resulted in the opening of many CRP lands for livestock foraging and many producers have questions about the safety of feeding partridge pea to livestock.
The fruits and seeds of partridge pea contain anthraquinones that may cause irritation of the digestive tract if consumed in large quantities. When this occurs there may be diarrhea and some abdominal pain (colic). Treatment of the diarrhea is seldom required due to the short duration of symptoms and the fact that they usually stop eating when they feel sick. There have been no good dosing studies of partridge pea toxicity in cattle and no published reports on the maximum amount of partridge pea that can be safely fed to cattle. Some have reported that if the diet is < 25% partridge pea there should be no problems, but no documentation could be found to confirm this recommendation. However, it seems reasonable to suggest that if the partridge pea is diluted with other forages so that it comprises a low percentage of the diet, it should not cause a problem.
Partridge Pea Photo Courtesy of:
Photo courtesy of: Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database