Senecio jacobea

How you can identify it, what it can do and how you can eliminate it!

It’s ablooming at the moment, appears in a sunny yellow at the road-and waysides and describes a huge and serious risk for our horses at the meadows and pastures: Senecio jacob ea!

The media exposure of senecio jacobea is meanwhile growing significantly, but nevertheless you find horses grazing next to big, flowering bushes, while driving through the country. It seems that there are inexplicable reasons, why numerous of horses suffer from partly irreversible liver diseases. We need more information in order to protect our horses against this plant, which was sowed once at the roadsides.

Here you can find some basic data which you should know:


  • Tap root with fiber roots, which could spread for at least 30 cm in the surrounding.
  • First year: rosette with deeply slotted leaves.
  • Second year: forming of the mostly red coloured, big stem, which branches above the middle.
  • Composite flower, with round golden yellow blossom which 15 to 20 cm.
  • Characteristic: 13 yellow flower leafs/ blossom
  • Bloom beginning in the middle of June
  • Spreading of plants via numerous seeds, similar to dandelion
  • Grown plants could be one meter high


  • Senecio jacobea (highest toxidity) and all other species of ragwort are toxic!
  • Toxic as fresh plant as well as dried!
  • Problem: horses don’t hesitate to eat it when dried (fresh plants smell bad and are bitter) and they are still toxic!
  • Dried plants in hay hardly differ from other grass weed like rhizome sorrel, tanaisie or yellow daisy, but are eaten!
  • Up to seven weeks young plants don’t have bitter substances and therefore are eaten!
  • The toxic substances are pyrrolizidine-alkaloides (PA). They are converted to toxic products in metabolism!
  • The PA’s destroy the liver tissue, are carcinogenic, harm hereditary material and highly damage foetuses.In high doses they harm the central nervous system, the lungs and kidney .
  • Deadly doses for a horse: 40 – 80 g fresh weight /kg (an individual grown plant weighes app. 70 g!)
  • The eaten poison are stored in liver, sum up and cause toxic effects when corresponding doses is reached!


  • Uncultivated, overgrazed, natural, untidy pastures with one-sided use and patchy sward.
  • Extensively used areas (because they can first be mowed from July 15th)
  • Paddocks
  • Road-and sideways


  • Avoid seed formation! Affected areas have tob e mowed the latest at the beginning of blooming.
  • Regarding single plants, pulling out or rather outpacing is the most secure method. The tap root has to be removed completely!
  • While removing, necessarily wear gloves, because senecio jacobea is also toxic for humans and therefore avoid contact with the skin
  • Depollution of pulled out plants in the domestic waste, as the seeds are very robust and a removal in the organic waste or dunghill favor a further spreading
  • Regarding extensive appearance mowing two times over respecitivaly before blooming is the most effective method
  • Precautionary measures:
    - Look after a tight, close sward
    - Regular change of cut and pasture
    - Regular seed when pasture fragmentary
    - Don’t mowe too early (otherwise plants stay too vital), but also before plants spread their seeds
  • Further tips to control, especially regarding insistent cases, contact your chamber of Agriculture

How to handle a liver disease!

Besides a treatment by a veterinarian a dietery which is low in protein and which reliefs the liver is very important, as this delivers special nutrient combinations and supports the detoxification and the regeneration of the liver cells.

We recommend:

  • Metadiat (as a soletary diet)
  • Microvital
  • Hepatic

Horses which easiliy gain weight we recommend Equimed Hepa:

  • Equimed Hepa
  • Micovital
  • For 4-6 weeks in combination with the best hay and straw.

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