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Ragwort toxicity in cattle
  1. Jo Payne1 and
  2. Alan Wight2
  1. 1AHVLA – Sutton Bonington, The Elms, College Road, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RB
  2. 2AHVLA – Winchester, Itchen Abbas, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1BX
  1. e-mail: alan.wight{at}

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RAGWORT toxicity is frequently discussed in relation to equine matters but is rarely mentioned with regard to farmed stock. We wish to remind colleagues of the serious consequences of feeding ragwort-contaminated forages. We also wish to point out some current food safety views concerning pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs).

Many PA-containing plants, when growing, are not palatable to livestock and are usually only eaten as they die back and if other feed is restricted, or when they are cut and incorporated into forage. In the past 10 years, the AHVLA (formerly the VLA) and SAC have confirmed 18 ragwort poisoning incidents in cattle. Here are three examples:

■Ragwort toxicity was confirmed to be the cause of illthrift and death in …

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