Texas Cattle Die-Off Linked to Grass
USDA checking for mutations in grass that produced cyanide gas
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2012 3:46 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2012 6:40 AM CDT
Death by grass.   (adrinilinjunky)

(Newser) – A sudden die-off of almost an entire herd of Texas cattle has been linked to a hybrid of Bermuda grass, reports CBS. Fifteen of the 18 animals on an 80-acre Elgin ranch began bellowing, went into convulsions, and quickly died three weeks ago when they were let loose on the grass hybrid known as Tifton 85, which has been growing on the ranch for 15 years. Preliminary results showed that the Tifton 85 grass was mysteriously producing cyanide gas and poisoned the cattle.

Researchers aren't certain what caused the change, and USDA scientists are attempting to determine if there has been some new strange mutation in the grass. Other farmers have since tested their Tifton 85 grass to find it's also toxic with cyanide gas—though so far no other cattle have been killed. But for right now, the Elgin rancher is steering clear of Tifton 85: "The grasshoppers are enjoying it now," he says.