Warning over poisonous ragwort in Redbourn field

Concern about grazing horses near ragwort-infested paddock

TO MANY people, a field of cheerful yellow blooms would be a thing of beauty.

But Rosemary Scott wants to warn people about the dangers of ragwort, a plant that is deadly to animals, after spotting an entire field of the weed sprouting unrestrained from a paddock in Redbourn.

She sent in a photo showing the “eyesore” field, located near the junction of Gaddesden Lane in Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead Road.

Rosemary said: “A good friend and I are having to check our field every day because this field is right beside ours. We are working hard to keep ours clear for our horses’ wellbeing as the last thing I want to see is my horses getting ill.”

Ragwort is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning of livestock in Britain with horses and cattle more susceptible to ragwort poisoning than other livestock.

The weed attacks the liver, destroying it, and little can be done to save an animal once symptoms – including convulsions – appear.

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Rosemary said she was not sure who owned the ragwort-infested field, which is possibly Crown land, but it was “diabolical” that so many weeds had been allowed to grow.

She said it was a losing battle trying to prevent the plant spreading to the paddock owned by her daughter she used to graze horses nearby, as seeds dispersed very easily.

Rosemary added: “Our field is only a tiny paddock, and we clear it every day; as soon as we see something we dig it up. It’s a nightmare. It is such an eyesore.

“I want to warn people what it looks like, as they should be clearing it. It is dangerous to animals.

“They have no idea what it is – they look at it and think it is a flower.”

Ragwort is one of five Injurious Weeds specified in the Weeds Act 1959.

The Ragwort Control Act was adopted in 2003, to protect horses, and has a code of practice on how to prevent its spread.

As anyone who has had ragwort growing on their farm can attest, it is a difficult plant to control, but advice is available on the website of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): www.defra.gov.uk