Friday, 14 April 2017

Animals can eat quite a bit of ragwort with impunity.

Today I am using this blog, as I sometimes, do to explain something that a tweet would not be able to hold and this time I have some new information which I haven't made public before.

I run a website which has all the technical side of things and I use this blog for more informal things or for stories that are current.

The matter has arisen of the usual nonsense being put out by some government body or other that is based on the nutty stories being circulated by equine organisation.

The matter has come up of a small number of poisoning cases recorded on the island of Ireland. Well the organisation recording these seems to get things badly wrong.

First of all the toxins in ragwort are found in 3% of plants  and secondly there is no definitive test . Mouldy feed can cause the same problem and I am told there are cattle cases where ragwort has been claimed as a cause in England where it is pretty obvious that it can't be.

This is covered on my website here There is no test for ragwort poisoning

So you can't say that a case is caused by ragwort unless you have direct evidence that ragwort is to blame and these would be abuse cases where animals are starved into eating it.

The new information is this. The research indicates that cattle can eat considerable amounts, ranging into the hundreds of grams a day without harm.
It may also be possible to use the research to show this is also the case for horses. Those of us working to counter the hysteria this would not be surprising. since we know that one plant used as feed contains the same class of toxins  in reduced amounts and the animals eat it without harm.

I haven't put all of this on the website yet because I am still tracking down some of the scientific papers. In some cases I am relying on papers which refer to other papers and I haven't seen these primary sources yet.  There may be as many as half a dozen papers required to sort it all out. I need experiments from one place and nformation on alkaloid concentrations elsewhere etc etc.

One thing is clear the odd plant of ragwort in a field is not going to be a problem.
Ragwort Hysteria latest entries

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