ARUA. Livestock farmers in Uriama sub-county, Arua district have been advised to closely monitor their animals and guard them against feeding on raw cassava, its peelings and leaves as the dry season comes to an end.

Mr Tom Afayoa, a veterinary scout in Uriama sub-county said the move will save the animals from dying of feed poison.

“Our animals mainly depend on cassava products during the long dry season due to a shortage of pasture and edible leaves but with the onset of rains, the increase of water content in plants will upsurge the level of cyanogenic glycosides that can release cyanide which is poisonous for both livestock and humans”, Afayoa explained.

His advice follows the death of four heads of cattle from one kraal, a loss estimated to be worth over shs3m on Sunday.

The animals reportedly consumed bitter cassava peelings which reacted violently shortly after they drunk water on the plant remains.

The owner of the dead animals, Mr Peter Amandu, a resident of Okaa village in Ejoni parish noted that his cows met their fate when some children untied them in his absence.

Amandu confirmed that he became confused when he returned home and found ten heads of cattle from his kraal including two calves exhibiting jerking body and started collapsing - only that others were saved.

“This is a big loss, I intended to use these animals to educate my children and afford other basic needs for my family. I’m now hopeless,” Amandu remarked.

However, Mr Kennedy Abima, one of the residents said the fortunate news is that the local remedies they gave for the affected animals effectively saved six of the cows.

“We have a liquid mixture of alcohol with tobacco for the affected animals to catalyze the reaction of the poisonous cyanide which made the gut of the animals to bulge. We are grateful to have rescued six of them,” Abima noted.

According to Wikipedia, cassava is classified as either sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, both bitter and sweet varieties of cassava contain anti-nutritional factors and toxins, with the bitter varieties containing much larger amounts.

It must be properly prepared before consumption, as improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication, goitres, and even ataxia, partial paralysis, or death.