Horse poisoned by Milkweed

Asked October 22, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

It is with great sadness we recently lost a beloved horse that we highly suspect of Milkweed poisoning. Does anyone have any knowledge of this kind of tragedy and know of a treatment? How many cases are reported? And what is the best method to eliminate this plant? It is with great hope and comfort for us to help educate other horse owners and help prevent a senseless tragedy for someone else. I have pictures of the suspected plants. Thank you for your help. Kind regards, Cindy

St. Clair County Michigan horse health horse nutrition

1 Response

Hi- I am so sorry for your loss. Horses can be such a big part of our lives.

I have attached a Fact Sheet from CSU Extension and as I come from Illinois and am very familiar with milkweed from the mid-west, I believe this information will apply to milkweed in Michigan too.

With that said, I believe while milkweed poisoning is uncommon in horses, it is not "unheard of" as if milkweed is contained in hay or pastures are over-grazed and it is the food source available, a horse will ingest this poisonous plant.

The Fact sheet has good information on control. You must be vigilant as it usually takes mechanical, as well as chemical control methods to eliminate this week. I spend many years with a hoe, getting milkweeds out of bean fields. It is effective--- not easy, but effective.

Animals should be removed from these pastures until you are able to eliminate this poisonous plant.