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Poison in the Paddock

There are several plants in Australia that are toxic to horses.⠀

Cape Weed — long taproot and germinated rapidly. If consumed in quantity at early growth stage, it can be full of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs). It can bring about a laminitic incident in horses and ponies susceptible to equine metabolic syndrome ( EMS) or Insulin resistant horses. It often attacks the hepatic (liver) cells. ⠀⠀



Flatweed — to the untrained eye, this can resemble Dandelion on a short stalk. When ingested by horses, Flatweed attacks the myelin sheath which covers the nerves, particularly the sciatic nerve in the hind quarters. This gives the horse spasticity of movement which may develop into Pasture Associated Stringhalt.


Paterson’s Curse — sometimes known as Salvation Jane. The young and tender leaves are very palatable to horses if there is a shortage of pasture and/or hard feed. ⠀

Fireweed — a neurotoxin to horses targeting the nerves in the large muscles. It is not particularly appealing to horses as it does have quite a specific odour. Mostly grazed by horses with little to no feed. Long term consumption leads to serious and debilitating liver damage. Extremely invasive, Fireweed spreads quickly over long distances by wind. A single plant can produce up to 18,000 seeds in a life cycle.⠀⠀


If you aren’t sure what species of poisonous plants are on your property, seek more information from The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Queensland).⠀


Also check out Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's Plants Poisonous to Horses Australian Feed Guide.

What do you think? Are there plants in your paddock that could pose a problem to your pal?


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