Ragwort is an attractive plant growing in a grass meadow. To a horse or cow it is potentially a poisonous menace that could cause an agonising death - however, some information available is a little alarmist and sensational.
Ragwort - Senecio jacobea - will be in full flower from the end of May through June and into July. Its bright yellow daisy-like flower heads with yellow centres glow brightly in the sunshine.
Identifying Ragwort is easy after you have seen it for the first time. Whilst the flower head can be confused with other yellow flowers that grow in the wild, its pinnately lobed leaves are extremely distinctive as is the first year rosette that it forms at ground level.
Landowners have a duty of care and a legal responsibility to control the yellow menace. Under Weeds Act 1959, the law has 'power to require occupier to prevent spreading of injurious weeds.'
The photographs should be used as a guide only and if you suspect that your land contains the weed I would advice you to seek a second opinion. Farmers or landowners who already keep livestock may assist you in positively identifying Ragwort.
Ragwortfacts.com refute many of the information on the Internet and released through newspapers saying that whilst Ragwort does damage the liver, a horse would need to consume 25% of its own body weight to cause damage.
There is evidence that livestock will not eat green ragwort but dried ragwort could remain toxic when dried.
This Dutch site - Ragwort Facts and Myths - has collated information to help anyone who maybe worried about ragwort.
Click to enlarge the images.