Renewed attack on Britain’s ragwort problem

Ragwort grows very well in British roadsides and fields.
Ragwort grows very well in British roadsides and fields.

A renewed attack on Britain’s ragwort plague is under way by the British Horse Society, which is launching a major survey supported by Defra to assess levels of awareness about ragwort and how it affects horses.

Ragwort can be fatal to horses, and every year, the BHS is inundated with concerns about ragwort. Many of those responsible for horses’ care invest large amounts of resource, both through labour and expense, in trying to control this weed.

The survey will gather data across England on the perceptions and reality of the impact of ragwort. It will inform future measures to ensure the appropriate use of the Weeds Act 1959, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and other relevant legislation.

The survey is running from now until Friday, August 15. The BHS is encouraging people to take the time to complete this survey, and share it with their friends and family. The more information that is collected, the more effective the campaign against ragwort can be.

Lee Hackett, BHS Director of Equine Policy, said: “We know that ragwort is an issue that greatly concerns our members and indeed all responsible horse owners so we are delighted to be working with Defra on this research project.

“We know that ragwort kills horses every year and there is absolutely no excuse for this – such deaths are completely avoidable.

“We need everyone who cares about horses to complete our survey so that we can better understand the extent of the problem.

“The results will also help inform policy making and other measures surrounding ragwort. This is a very important project and one which could make a real difference, so we are extremely grateful to Defra for their support of this work.

“However, it can only work if we can gather enough data so I urge everyone involved in horses to take a few minutes to complete the survey and to encourage others to do the same.”

Take the survey at

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