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The Dangers of Ragwort

Ragwort is a common weed that is poisonous to horses and ponies. It grows throughout the British Isles and is controlled by both the Weeds Act 1959 and the Ragwort Control Act 2003.

The Dangers of Ragwort

The BHS is not looking to completely eradicate Ragwort but simply to control it when it is growing close to, or on, grazing land. Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) contains potentially deadly pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These toxic compounds principally cause damage to the liver that can lead to death. Horses are particularly susceptible to the effects of Ragwort poisoning, but it is also important that humans take precautions when handling the plant.

The control of Ragwort comes under two government acts, The Weeds Act (1959) and The Control of Ragwort Act (2003). Responsibility for controlling Ragwort rests with the occupier of the land on which it is growing. However, it is expected that all landowners, occupiers and managers will co-operate and take collective responsibility for ensuring that effective control of the spread of Ragwort is achieved.

It is vital that horse owners know how to identify ragwort and remove it, as well as the tell-tale signs of ragwort poisoning.


The toolkits were produced as a result of an extensive 2014 survey carried out in England in association with Defra

Find out more about our Ragwort Toolkit.


The BHS Welfare Department can provide free advice, advisory literature and posters on the control and dangers of Ragwort. Contact or call on 02476 840517.


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