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Mysterious Death of 200 Wis. Cows Solved -- Moldy Sweet Potatoes Blamed

"These potatoes had a problem in storage..."

Anti-carb advocates might say "I told you so" after reading this story.

The 200 cows that mysteriously dropped dead in Wisconsin earlier this month have moldy sweet potatoes to blame, the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory says.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports the cause of death was determined to be pneumonia, and tests of the cattle's feed revealed a toxin commonly found in moldy sweet potatoes is responsible for the respiratory illness.

Farm owner Jerry Krupka told the Herald he got the whole potatoes from a local food processor that deemed them unfit for human consumption.

"These potatoes had a problem in storage, so they were taken directly out to our farm to be fed to the cattle," he said. "Each product (we use in our feed mix) is put in a mixer, so each steer, if he eats 50 pounds, he gets a part of each ingredient we put into that mixer."

The contaminated potatoes, and the cows that ate them, pose no threat to humans, officials told the Herald. But the deaths did affect the farmer: the lost cattle will cost Krupka about $300,000, which is not covered by his insurance.

According to Yahoo! News, sweet potatoes have been tagged as cow-killers in the past. The starchy vegetable was blamed for bovine deaths in 2001, 2003, and 2007.

Read more from the Wausau Daily Herald.

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