Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum)

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This page contains information regarding a plant "known to be poisonous" to goats as well as other animals. This information was researched from various resources. Please note, that the author is not a botanist or specialist regarding plants. This information is posted for your reference and comparison purposes only.

Alsike Clover - Click for a full size image Alsike Clover - Click for a full size image

(pea family)
See special NOTE below concerning Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Red Clover, White Clover.

These perennial legumes are commonly grown for pasture or hay and may be found as escapes in fields, roadsides, and waste areas. They have the familiar three-parted clover leaf. The flowers are axillary, not terminal as in red clover, and are pink to white in a clover head.

All green parts when dewy.

This is not a commonly reported toxicity, and is usually not serious even if toxicity occurs. It is unknown if the wet clover causes problems by contact or ingestion. The typical signs associated with alsike clover are gastrointestinal distress, including mild colic and diarrhea. Photodermatitis ("sunburn") is also possible, especially on the parts of the body that contact the wet grass (lower legs, mouth). Liver damage has been suggested, but not well-verified. This syndrome, which can be caused by plants in addition to alsike, is sometimes called "dew poisoning" or "trifoliosis".

In rare cases, the sunburn may spread to the entire body, especially in lightly pigmented areas. Newly shorn sheep may be particularly at risk. Large amounts of alsike must be consumed before serious body-wide sunscald develops.


All grazing animals may be affected.

Gastrointestinal irritation, photodermatitis (sunburn or sunscald).

Remove the animals from the pastures especially in the early morning when the plants are dew-covered. Animals severely affected by sunscald need to be kept out of the sun until recovered (turn them out at night). Care for gastrointestinal and sunburned areas symptomatically. Call a veterinarian if signs are severe or if the animal does not recover in a day or two.

Alsike clover is safe when dry, therefore prepared feeds containing alsike is safe for consumption.

Keep sensitive animals off alsike pastures in the early morning or during wet weather. Provide other feed if animals are consuming large quantities of the clover and if they are showing clinical signs. Keeping the pastures mowed will lessen the effects of the toxicity for sensitive animals.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense, pea family), Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum, dock family), and Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, pea family) can sometimes cause similar poisoning. However, White Clover (Trifolium repens, pea family) poisoning, when it occurs, causes cyanotic or estrogenic (hormone) symptoms, especially in swine. All of these plants sometimes cause bloating, especially when the animals are put out in lush growth that they are not accustomed to eating.

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