Plant Poisons on the Farm

Moredun-logoSummary written by Ken Angus BVMS DVM FRCVS

Taken from Moredun Foundation Newsheet Volume 2 No. 5 (1994)



ragwort-flowers-Richard-OldMany beautiful wild flowering plants grace the hedgerows, banks of streams and rivers, woodlands and hillsides of Britain, while others can be found on permanent pastures and occasionally in profusion on set-aside areas. Every farm has its share of the local flora, which forms part of our national heritage.

Unfortunately, many species of plants, bushes and trees are poisonous to livestock because of their bitter taste, but if proper grazing is scarce, or in another unusual circumstances, amounts sufficient to cause illness and even deaths may be eaten. It is also worth remembering that some cultivated crops can be dangerous at times; for instance clover bloat and fog fever are conditions all too familiar to livestock farmers.

As a general rule, diagnosis of plant poisoning, though occasionally straight-forward enough, can be extremely difficult in many cases. This newsheet lists only a few of the more common poisonous plants and summarises their effects on animals. For those interested in greater details, we recommend the MAFF Reference Book No 161 - "Poisonous Plants in Britain and their effects on Animals and Man", published by HMSO in hard cover, and available also in shortened version in paperback.


Photo - Ragwort © Richard Old



More information can be found in our article 'Poisonous Plants'


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