Oregon State University Extension Service

Is mistletoe toxic to livestock?

I want information on the degree of mistletoe toxicity to livestock; specifically cattle and horses.

Pregnant cows consuming mistletoe have been reported to abort their calves. Try to move cattle away from the mistletoe or other toxic plants by feeding some baled hay in an area away from the site. Also consider using electrified temporary fencing to keep animals out of the area.

Some cattle have died from eating Western mistletoe. Ordinarily, it appears to be unpalatable to them, but occasionally they develop an abnormal taste for it.

Symptoms of poisoning: In the cases on record, animals poisoned by mistletoe died suddenly with no apparent evidence of suffering.

Several species of closely related mistletoe occur in southern Oregon and California, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. One which extends northward to east-central Oregon is variety ligatum of Phoradendron juniperinum Engelm.

In central Oregon it is parasitic on Juniper, and it can be recognized by the leaves which are reduced to scales and by the usually deep pink or red berries.

Source URL: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/ask-extension/featured/mistletoe-toxic-livestock