The Battle with Ragwort

As pretty as it looks, Ragwort can give landowners and horse owners alike a real headache. We’ve all heard about it, but how much do you really know about its part in the world?

Ragwort contains toxic compounds, which can cause irreversible liver damage to horses. This can happen if it’s eaten fresh, but also dry in hay or haylage, so it’s important to check any hay you’re feeding, as well as your fields. The plant flowers from May to October and there has been a lot of talk in the news over the last couple of months about just how rampant Ragwort is becoming across the UK.

While we obviously want to keep our fields clear of Ragwort for our horses’ wellbeing, under the Weeds Act of 1959, the occupier of the land is actually legally responsible for clearing it. Visit the government website for the latest guidance on how you can safely help stop Ragwort from spreading: www.gov.uk/guidance/stop-ragwort-and-other-harmful-weeds-from-spreading.

Conservation is extremely important to us at Remus. We occupy 40 acres of Essex countryside and actively develop small areas of land and corridors of conservation to benefit plant life and wild creatures. Did you know the cinnabar caterpillar feeds on Ragwort? It’s actually their favourite food! So while we’re certainly not anti-wildlife, it is important that we follow the right guidance to keep our paddocks and grazing land safe for everyone.

There is a helpful Q&A all about Ragwort on the Horse & Country website: https://horseandcountry.tv/en-us/ragwort-horse-owner-know/.

We will be hosting a further Open Day in October for you to come and meet with the staff and visit the animals. Find out more here and book your tickets: www.remussanctuary.org/events/open-day-sanctuary-october.

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