Michigan Extension Offers New Toxic Plant Bulletins

Horse owners do what they can to make sure their charges get healthy feed. But how do they know that the plants growing in their pastures are safe for equine consumption, and how do they grow good forage? Find out which plants can threaten horse health and which make good hay from several new Michigan State University (MSU) Extension publications.

Four new bulletins describe the most common toxins to horses that are found in hay, grain, pastures, landscaping, and various trees. They focus on toxic ornamental plants (E-3059), toxic plants in pasture and hay plants (E-3060), common toxins in equine feedstuffs (E-3061) and toxic trees (E-3062).

These bulletins are available online or by calling any MSU Extension county office at 888/678-3464.

"We're now approaching the growing season, and many horse owners will notice pasture plants that they haven't seen before or find a horse nibbling on landscape plants," said Karen Waite, MSU Extension equine specialist. "It's important that equine owners be informed about which plants may cause problems or make their animals sick."

Avoiding toxic plants in pastures and hayfields begins with establishing good pastures and hayfields.

The strategies outlined in "Hay and Pasture for Michigan Horses" (E-2305) were developed by MSU Extension educators specializing in equines and forages. They revised an older publication with new information about plant species and management practices, including renovating older pastures and hayfields.

"We see many people interested in establishing hayfields or buying properties with old pastures that need some care before they can provide good quality horse forage," Waite said. "There have been a number of studies on new and existing forage plants that show which ones provide good nutritional quality and how horse owners can maintain productive pastures and hayfields over the long term."

Horse owners or barn managers whose property borders lakes, streams or wetlands can also learn how to preserve these natural resources with help from a bulletin developed by MSU Extension, the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality, and the USDA.

"Acceptable practices for managing livestock along lakes, streams and wetlands" (E-3066) looks at housing livestock in these sensitive areas and provides strategies for maintaining animals and water quality.

Order an MSU Extension bulletin.

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