The British Horse Society has learnt that yet another horse has died of ragwort poisoning. Scirocco, a 16.1hh dark bay gelding belonging to Mrs Wendy Harrow of Llanelli, died a slow and painful death earlier this month.
Vets treating the horse for liver damage did not initially suspect ragwort poisoning, and by the time the staggering symptoms appeared, it was too late.
Mrs Harrow said: "It was devastating to watch Scirocco die. I would never want anyone to go through that. I could not believe it was ragwort poisoning as I have always kept our fields completely free of it. But this year I bought in hay from a different source, and the ragwort was in that. Blood tests show that my two other horses were also affected, but I am treating them with NAFF detox and pink powder and they are okay".
Nichola Gregory, British Horse Society Ragwort Campaign co-ordinator, said: "We have been warning horse owners of the dangers of ragwort getting in to hay, and unfortunately we have been proved right. In this case the supplier said he was "70% sure" there was no ragwort in his hay. Horse owners need to be 100% sure that the forage they feed their animals is not going to poison them. If ragwort is found in hay, it should be reported to the Trading Standards Officer."
Ragwort is poisonous to horses, cattle, donkeys and sheep. It is also poisonous to humans, so gloves should always be worn when pulling it. Ragwort should be dug up and destroyed as soon as it appears in the spring (called 'the rosette' stage). It can also be treated by spot spraying with Barrier H (an effective and environmentally friendly herbicide), burnt off with a paraffin weed burner, or dug out and salt put in the hole to kill any roots left behind. Horses and ponies should not be put back in the field until the ragwort has been removed.
BHS Root Out Ragwort Week - 21-29 July Root Out Ragwort Week is aimed at preventing flowering ragwort from going to seed by raising awareness in the public of the dangers to livestock of ragwort poisoning.