Planting some ideas for equine liver health

By Connie Orcutt • Published: March 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

Toxins called pyrrolizidine [peer-oh-LIZ-ah-deen] alkaloids, found in certain types of vegetation, can pose big problems for your horse. Trying these plants in pasture may be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it’s worth the search.

Pasture-associated liver disease is caused by a buildup of toxicity over the lifetime of a horse. Weight loss, colic and neurologic abnormalities are just some of the signs of liver problems. But because 80 percent of a horse’s liver needs to be damaged before signs appear, you many not notice anything unusual until weeks or months after your horse eats toxic plants.

Steering clear of toxic vegetation is the best preventative measure. Some offenders include red clover, heliotropes, rattlepods, ragwort, fiddlenecks and houndstongue. The toxins remain just as potent after drying, so hay bales should be checked too.