The Yellow Peril

This is ragwort

This is ragwort

It’s that time of year again. You might think you have pulled, sprayed or cut all of it, but the darned stuff still manages to flower and seed here there and everywhere. My dedicated team have noticed a substantial increase in the length of their arms during the last five years; they have really tackled this horrible weed and I think (whisper it) they are winning.

There had been an awful lot of misinformation peddled about ragwort on Twitter. ‘Don’t panic horse owners’, ‘Horses are selective feeders’ blah blah blah. Well here is my official line: if you have ragwort, go ahead and panic. Let your panic take the form of industrious measures to control the ragwort in your fields and hedges – you know it makes sense.

When you have known quite a few horses and ponies which have been rescued in a state of emaciation, as I have, you know that this selective eating thing CAN go out of the window. it doesn’t always, but it can. A lot of horses will just eat whatever is there from an instinct to fill their bellies – and of course when ragwort is dried in hay or silage, it can be unnoticeable to a hungry horse, but it’s just as deadly. Death from ragwort poisoning isn’t instant, but it’s nasty, very nasty. I’ve seen it and I know.

Spare a thought as well, for those of us who are constantly ON A DIET for our wellbeing. We tend to be kept on bare paddocks and can eat little bits of ragwort by mistake when we graze as close as we can to the ragwort plant. Over time, we could eat enough to do us harm, so get out there and sort it please.

I can’t find any in my paddock today – thank you Sally and Sarah!

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