Ragwort on Turnpike Field

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ragwort 2020

Our sheep grazed Turnpike Field in winter and early spring from the late 1990s to 2012,

Sheep will graze out the developing ragwort plants at the early rosette stage without any ill effects. As previously mentioned donkeys, horse and cattle rarely graze the growing plant due to its extreme bitterness.

The real danger occurs when it is incorporated in hay and to a lesser extent silage. As it dries three potent hepatic toxins develop. at the same time as its bitterness fades. A few plants used to appear on the canal bank but I suspect the sheep reduced the establishment in the main area.

They certainly grazed it very hard and by late January through to lambing in mid march they had to be supplemented with hay .The adjoining field was grazed by sheep from March to November and any (usually vey few) plants were removed by hand. Since then that field has been used to either grow maize or more recently to produce silage.

With the greater public access and the apparent large increase in the local dog population I would now be very nervous about grazing sheep there. We were fortunate and only suffered four major dog attacks.

Chris Lewis

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