Excerpts from: Effect of Volcanic Activity on Hawaii Livestock Operations (M. Thorne, May 29, 2018)
The recent volcanic activity on the Big Island poses several immediate threats to Livestock production on the southern side of the island. These include in order of concern:
1. Vog – contains gasses including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, and carbon dioxide (among others).
2. Volcanic Ash – composed of pulverized rock, mineral and volcanic glass. Of the various mineral components of ash, fluorine concentration is the most significant for livestock health concerns.
3. Seismic activity –earthquakes as a part of the volcanic activity pose some threat to livestock and ranch infrastructure.
4. Lava – livestock and ranch infrastructure in the vicinity of the volcanic activity are in immediate danger, while this threat becomes minimal moving a way from the volcano.
1. Livestock should be moved, as much as feasible, to safety from the lava flows, ash fall, and vog clouds. This may mean relocating livestock to another part of the island or moving them to a safe elevation above the vog cloud and lava flows.
2. Water sources should be analyzed and monitored for elevated sulfur and fluoride levels to prevent complications with copper absorption that can be brought on by too much sulfur in an animals diet, and Fluorosis (fluoride toxicity) as result of too much fluoride.
3. As much as possible, animals should be moved to pasture that is not affected by vog or ash fall.
4. Whether animals are moved from affected pasture areas, or they remain, they should be closely monitored for complications like bone loss in the nasal areas, worn/loss of teeth, respiratory problems, digestive issues (bloating, scours, weight loss), behavioral changes, and copper deficiency.
5. Producers in affected areas should consider supplementing cattle and goats with additional copper to mitigate the effect of high sulfur in the diet and Calcium and Vitamin D to help reduce the effects of Fluorosis. Sheep producers should consult with their cooperative extension agent or a veterinarian before providing additional copper as too much copper can be toxic to sheep.
6. Copper can be supplemented using Copper Sulfate (CuSO4) provided either separately or mixed in with a premixed complete mineral or a Trace Mineral Salt.
7. Calcium can supplemented using dolomite [CaMg(CO3)2] mixed in with a premixed complete mineral or a Trace Mineral Salt. Vitamin D is most efficiently administered with an injection. Producers should work with their local veterinarian to determine dosage.
8. Questions and concerns for animal health and welfare can be directed to your local extension agent and/or local veterinarian.
Or Contact: Mark S. Thorne, Ph.D.
Range and Livestock Extension Specialist
University of Hawaii-Manoa, Cooperative Extension
Advice from 2008 Hawai‘i Deaprtment of Agriculture news release
Livestock owners are advised to closely monitor the health of livestock downwind of the volcano.... Watch for eye irritations, weakness, abnormal behaviors, difficult breathing or any other abnormalities in livestock. Also—
- Handle livestock judiciously to prevent added stress as animals' ability to withstand working and movement may be compromised by abnormal air quality.
- Ensure that an adequate supply of clean water is available at all times. A protected water supply is strongly advised. Increase monitoring of watering troughs and cleaning of drinking troughs in the event of ashfall.
- Consult with veterinarians regarding mineral supplementation, particularly due to the higher than normal sulfur dioxide levels that have been occurring. Sulfur dioxide in the volcanic emissions may deplete livestock of selenium, copper, other minerals and vitamins essential for animal health.
In some volcanic regions, fluorine toxicity in ash covering grazing pastures is a concern. Consumption of high levels of fluorine may be fatal to livestock.
UPDATE--2018, May 15
Concerns specifically regarding livestock illness or well-being call:
- (808) 483-7106
- after hours (808) 837-8092 (Animal Disease Control Branch)
For further information, call Hawaii County Civil Defense:
- (808) 935-0031
- after hours (808) 935-3311