The British Horse Society has launched its third national ragwort survey and – with Ragwort Awareness Week running from July 23-29 – is urging anyone spotting the toxic plant near horses to participate.

The British Horse Society (BHS) has launched its third national ragwort survey.

The 2012 BHS Ragwort Awareness Week runs from July 23-29 and anyone spotting ragwort near horses is being urged to visit the society’s website to complete the survey.

Ragwort on the rise, according to recent surveysEvery year horses and cattle die painful deaths as a result of severe liver damage having eaten the toxic plant. The dangers are widely known but the BHS believes ragwort remains a problem because the Weeds Act 1959 and the Ragwort Control Act 2003 are not being properly enforced.

Lee Hackett, senior executive (welfare) at the BHS, said: “Everyone involved with horses should know the danger posed by ragwort. Despite this we get hundreds of reports each year of horses’ health being put at risk by grazing them in ragwort infected fields.

“This suggests the education message is not getting through and that the existing legislation is not being enforced.”

By carrying out regular surveys, the BHS aims to gain an insight into trends in ragwort proliferation and how best to control it.

Previous surveys in 2010 and 2011 appeared to show levels of ragwort in grazing pastures is on the rise, and respondents to the most recent survey identified 20,781 horses grazing either on or within 50 metres of fields containing ragwort.

  • The counties of Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Essex, Kent and Surrey were identified as ragwort hotspots.
  • You can take part in the Ragwort survey on the BHS website.


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