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2010, Vol. 5 No. 2, Article 70


Butachlor Herbicide Poisoning in Horses

K. A. Shah and S. A. Andrabi*



Department of Animal Husbandry,
Red Cross Road, Gaw Kadal, Srinagar, Kashmir, India



*Corresponding Author; e-mail address: anjum.andrabi@gmail.com



Poisoning due to accidental ingestion of butachlor, a herbicide, was encountered in five horses. Significant improvement was observed in two horses after the initial treatment with 5% dextrose saline, anti-bloat, pheneramine maleate and liver tonics whereas other three horses responded after a second therapy. Signs of hyper salivation and tympany disappeared and animals turned completely normal on 3rd day of treatment.


Butachlor, herbicide, poisoning, horse.


The wide use of agricultural chemicals constitutes a potential hazard to grazing stock. Among various agricultural chemicals, fertilizers and insecticides of chlorinated hydrocarbons and organophosphate groups have commonly been reported to cause poisoning in cattle and horses (Rajesh et al., 2000), dogs (Anil, et al., 2008 ) lambs and steers (Radostitis et al., 2000). Poisoning with herbicides is an uncommon occurrence. However, animals can be poisoned accidentally by inhalation, ingestion or per-cutaneous absorption of these compounds. The present communication records the poisoning encountered in horses due to accidental ingestion of a herbicide - butachlor and its therapeutic management.


Signs of in-coordination, hyper salivation, tympany, recumbency and reluctance to take food or water were reported in a group of five horses aged between 4-6 years. Upon clinical examination, the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate were found to be within the normal range. History revealed that these signs developed soon after the horses had accidental access to water in a nearby paddy field treated with herbicide.


History and clinical signs indicated that the animals were poisoned accidentally by taking the water containing the herbicide butachlor. Dextrose saline (2L) was administered intravenously to each animal, followed by intramuscular administration of phenaramine maleate and an injectable liver tonic preparation (10 ml each). In addition, 200 ml of anti-bloat ( silica in dimethicone) was also given orally. The treatment was repeated after four hours with 1L of 5% dextrose saline IV infusion, 100 ml of anti-bloat orally and 1 gm of Ampicillin-Cloxacillin preparation intramuscularly. Administration of Ampicillin-Cloxacillin 1gm twice a day and phenaramine maleate & liver tonics (10ml each) once a day was continued for three days.


Significant improvement was observed in two horses after the initial treatment whereas other three horses responded after second therapy. Signs of hypersalivation and tympany disappeared and the animals turned completely normal on the 3rd day of treatment.
Reports on butachlor poisonings in large animals are scarce. However, poisoning with butachlor has been reported in man. Animals poisoned with the herbicide were managed by supportive therapy during present study. Nasser et al.,(2007) and Ying-Chu et al., (2008) reported medical management of such poisoning in man primarily by supportive therapy.
Butachlor is a highly effective herbicidal substance which is widely used by farmers to control weeds in transplanted, direct-seeded rice and barely fields. It belongs to chloroacetanilide class of chemical compounds.
In man, exfoliative dermatitis, jaundice, increase in liver enzymes, and eosinophilia one day after accidental dermal exposure to butachlor toxin was recorded by Nasser et al., (2007). Butachlor poisonings are usually of low toxicity however, vomiting, central nervous system depression, severe neurological and cardiovascular disorders and even death in rare cases has also been reported following oral ingestion (Ying-Chun et al., 2008). In rodents, liver toxicity has been observed in sub-chronic and chronic toxicity studies, following oral administration of butachlor at 1000 ppm dietary level in male and at 3000 ppm in female rats (Wilson and Takei, 2000).


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  2. Kapoor R, Sharma DK and Raina RK (2000). Organochlor insecticide poisoning in horses and Cattle. The Blue Cross Book. Vol 15: 423.

  3. Kumar A, Kamran A, Mahendra BR, Deepti, Ramesh and Bhat N (2008), Organophosphorus compound poisoning in dog. Intas polyvet. Vol.9 No.II :304

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  5. Wilson AGE, Takei AS. (2000), Summary of toxicology studies with butachlor. J Pesticide Sci ;25:75-83

  6. Ying-Chun Lo, Chen-Chang Yang, Jou-Fang Deng (2008). Acute alachlor and butachlor herbicide poisoning. Clinical Toxicology, Vol. 46, No. 8 , Pages 716-721



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