Seasonally Toxic Plants for Horses

A close up of a funny grey horse eating green plants

With winter fast approaching in parts of the US, it’s a good time to review the affects that frost can have on certain plants horses may grass on.

Some deciduous leaves can be deadly after a frost or after they have wilted due to broken branches, fall leaf shed or storm damage. Leaves that tend to be most toxic are those of red maple and cherry trees.




Choke Cherry Leaf-Fall Color

This a good time of year to identify any seasonally toxic trees on your property, and keep horses from their fallen or frost damaged leaves for at least 30 days.

Even though these leaves are not commonly eaten, horses can accidentally ingest them, especially if hungry or bored.  HorseDVM has a terrific site with symptoms, identification, and treatments.

Here is a link to all you need to know about Horses and Red Maple

Here is a link to all you need to know about Horses and Cherry Trees

Nitrate toxicity can also be an issue after frost with some nitrate-accumulating plants. Generally, this is only a concern with some grass species where high nitrogen has been used and with some weeds that are know to be nitrate accumulators like lambsquarter and pigweed.

It is recommended that horse owners wait up to a week after a killing frost before grazing areas where nitrate toxicity is a concern. Prussic acid accumulation can also be an issue after a frost with some specific warm-season annual grasses like sorghum and sudan grasses, but these grasses aren’t commonly grazed by horses or fed in horse quality hay.

Here is a link to a full list of equine poisonous plants (not just after frost) from HorseDVM

Poisonous Plants For Horses Database

I hope you NEVER have to deal with toxicity from plants with your horse! Please share this post so other horse owners are aware too.

Peace and Good Feed,

The Nerd



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