By Ann Roberti

You don’t catch it from spending too much time in Dubben’s or Home Depot. It isn’t caused by too tight braces or too many piercings. But Hardware Disease is serious and it kills animals.

Hardware Disease is the name some farmers have given to what happens to their livestock when litter carelessly discarded out of car windows is eaten by their animals. This can happen when trash containing metal or hard plastic (beer and soda cans, pull tabs, foil, wire etc.) is accidentally sliced into bits by mowers and then ingested by grazing animals. The official diagnosis is bovine traumatic reticuloperitonitis. Ruminants, especially cattle, don’t thoroughly chew their food and can easily ingest these foreign objects. These objects can then puncture the gut lining, damage organs or cause peritonitis (infection within the abdomen), resulting in pain, illness and sometimes even death.

Farmers try to prevent hardware disease by checking their fields and roadside edges for hazardous litter, but with tall grass and other vegetation, cans and other garbage are very hard to see. Our farmers work hard enough without having to add litter patrol to their job descriptions.

Help stamp out Hardware Disease:  If you see someone throwing their trash out the window, tell them they are spreading hardware disease and they should knock it off!~