Toxic Mushroom Risk for Horses in Kentucky Pastures Due to Wet Weather

At the beginning of August, the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (LDDC) received several calls regarding the presence of mushrooms in pastures around eastern Kentucky. Callers were concerned about whether it presented a problem for livestock to graze on pastures with mushrooms.

"Mushrooms appear to be more prevalent this year due to the rainy wet weather," said Cynthia Gaskill, DVM, PhD, who is a clinical toxicologist at LDDC, in a statement released by the LDDC on Aug. 3. "Thousands of species of mushrooms exist, many of which do not pose a threat to animals. However, a number of poisonous mushroom species exist and can potentially cause poisoning in animals.

"Mushrooms can contain a variety of toxic substances, and clinical signs vary greatly depending on mushroom type and toxins present," the statement continued. "Identification of mushroom species is virtually impossible for the lay person and can even be difficult for experienced mycologists. Identification of mushrooms and determination of risk can be assisted by providing information on regional location, growth substrate, and tree type if growing in association with trees."

"Reducing exposure is always helpful with any potential toxicosis. Fortunately, mushroom toxicity in large animals is a rare occurrence. We see this more in small animals," Gaskill said.

For more information on risks of toxic mushrooms, information on where to send mushrooms for identification, control of mushrooms, clinical signs associated with toxic mushrooms, and additional details, contact Gaskill at 859/253-0571, ext. 148, or e-mail

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