Greener Pastures, 'Blackgrounds Farm' , Culworth Road, , Chipping Warden , Oxfordshire, OX17 1LZ, United Kingdom
doug@greenerpastures.co.uk tel: 07890294377
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Pony Fields

image001.jpgOne of the most common weeds we deal with is Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea.  It is widely spread throughout the area and it's control is made all the more difficult by the lack of effort put in by local authorities and councils to control Ragwort on the roadsides and public areas.
Common Ragwort contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are poisonous to horses, other farm animals such as sheep and cattle and also to wild animals such as hare and deer. It is important for horse owners and horse pasture owners to recognize and control this potentially fatal plant.

Unfortunately, some horse-keepers do not control ragwort growth and spread as they do not expect their horses to eat the plant and probably don't appreciate the reality of the suffering their animals could be caused. It is true that ragwort does have a bitter taste which often deters horses from eating it. However, if grass becomes sparse (e.g. following a period of hot dry weather) horses may resort to eating plants they wouldn't normally eat, including ragwort if it is present. Some horses develop a liking for the bitter taste and may choose to eat it even when there is sufficient palatable grass available to graze on. If eaten, as little as 2lb of fresh ragwort can be sufficient to cause fatal damage. Uncontrolled ragwort left growing in and around horse pastures exposes horses and ponies to poisoning and possibly death, and the infestation will increase each year as plants set seed. 

Under the Weeds Act 1959, the Secretary of State may serve an enforcement notice on the occupier of land on which injurious weeds are growing, requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the spread of injurious weeds.

The adoption of the Ragwort Control Act on 20 November 2003 marks an important step forward in the protection of equine welfare. The new Act, which amends the Weeds Act, will give added protection to horses, as well as other animals from the serious and sometimes fatal consequences of Ragwort poisoning. The Act, which was sponsored by The British Horse Society, originated as a Private Member’s Bill, and was presented to Parliament by John Greenway MP. The Government gave its backing to the Bill, and welcomes its successful passage through Parliament. The Act came into force on 20 February 2004.

The Ragwort Control Act enables the Secretary of State to make a Code of Practice to prevent the spread of Ragwort. Rural Affairs Minister and Minister for the Horse, Alun Michael, launched the Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort at the Royal Show on 4 July 2004. By promoting good practice and good neighborliness the code aims to reduce significantly the risk posed by ragwort poisoning to horses and other animals. The Code is particularly relevant for large scale organizations, including local authorities and public bodies.

Under the Ragwort Control Act, the Code will be admissible in enforcement proceedings under the Weeds Act, which will make it easier to prosecute those who disregard the need to control Ragwort. Similarly, those who have followed the guidance laid down in the Code, would be able to use this in their defense in any Court proceedings.copy_of_m._dyer_1a.jpg

We offer a full obligation free consultation service for owners of fields that have a ragwort problem.  I have had a great deal of experience with it's control and eradication.  Please don't hesitate to contact us for weed spraying or any further pasture consultancy.