Plant Poisons on the Farm
Summary written by Ken Angus BVMS DVM FRCVS
Taken from Moredun Foundation Newsheet Volume 2 No. 5 (1994)
Many 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'
The full news sheet for any of the disease summaries can be ordered from the Moredun Foundation by using the following request form. The first news sheet title requested is free*, further news sheet titles are charged at £5.00 per copy (including postage).
*offer limited to one news sheet title per postal address in any one year. After that each news sheet will be charged at the standard price of £5.00 (including postage).
Moredun Membership Scheme
Moredun runs a membership scheme which aims to keep farmers and their vets up to date with the latest developments in animal health research. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Moredun Foundation, please click here.