Watch out for ragwort!
This week we had a new arrival into one of our holding bases near Colchester – Brandy, a five year old gelding donkey. On the outside, Brandy looks like a fairly healthy donkey apart from his long feet, but unfortunately he is also suffering from liver damage which may have been caused by him eating Ragwort.
Ragwort is really dangerous for horses and donkeys if they eat it, so it is very important to be on the lookout for it in areas where they graze. Brandy was rescued from a field that was knee-high in Ragwort, so there is a possibility that this is what has made him ill.
So what is Ragwort and how can you spot it?
• Ragwort is a green plant with purplish/red roots which produces bright yellow, daisy-like flowers during the summer
• Each plant can produce as many as 150,000 seeds so it can spread really quickly
• It is just as dangerous to donkeys and horses when it is dried in grass and hay as it is as a living plant
• The earlier you spot Ragwort, the easier it is to control it and make sure your animals are not affected
• In most cases managing your grazing areas well will stop Ragwort from growing in the first place
Brandy will stay at our holding base near Colchester until he is fit enough to travel to our main Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon. We are keeping a close eye on him to find out how the Ragwort may be affecting his health, and our lovely staff are also tending to his overgrown hooves and helping him settle into Sanctuary life. He is a much happier donkey now.
To find out more about Ragwort, what to look out for and how to deal with it, please visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/ragwort