Posted: 06/08/2014 at 14:00
When we had the smallholding we walked the meadows in the spring with a knapsack sprayer zapping thistles and ragwort at the rosette stage, and later on we'd walk the meadows again before cutting for hay, hand pulling any that we'd missed. They were stacked, dried and burned. Ragwort in hay is especially toxic.
Anyone walking the meadows 'poo picking' was also expected to keep their eyes peeled for ragwort as well, and dig it out removing the root. In a few years we virtually eradicated what had been a moderate infestation in two of the meadows.
In my experience, if the grazing is good horses and ponies will usually avoid eating ragwort - however, if the grazing is poor and they are hungry, like the rest of us they'll eat almost anything - and so often people who know nothing about the dangers of ragwort know nothing about the quality of grazing either so the problems are compounded.