Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FYI, Horses and Vetch..... Our vet visit went very smoothly this morning. Dr. Melissa Hamilton is the best and even the Diva wasn't too disagreeable with her.....although she put on a few minutes of the "I'm so scared" act which has gotten her results in the past, Sande is not so easily fooled by Ms Mouse's theatrics any more much to Mouse's chagrin, lol. Steve is in the middle of cutting hay and he started a discussion with Melissa about the toxicity of vetch. She told us that Hairy and Crown vetch are the highly toxic varieties. There are over 140 varieties of vetch in the US. The one which grows so prolifically is Vicia Sativa or the Common Vetch. The fact that it does seem to be growing everywhere concerned us so I did a little research. I called the Ag Extension office, who are always helpful, but they told us that they really weren't that knowledgeable of the individual vetch varieties toxicity. I told him that I was search on the web for info and he told me to stick to .edu and .gov sites which I did. It took a lot of searching but I finally found two sites, on an FDA site and the other from Rutgers and this is what I found. Turns out that, although Hairy and Crown varieties are highly toxic throughout the plant and should never be fed, most vetch are safe except for the seed or bean which contains ingredients which can range from highly toxic to nutrient blocking which can cause several symptoms if eaten in sufficient quantities. Evidently it takes large quantities because it is far more toxic to chickens than it is horses and cows seem to have no problem with it. As for use as a forage, whether intentional or accidental, the plant itself seems to cause no harm and is commonly used in some countries, Australia and Mexico, as a primary forage for horses. Still, we aren't taking any chances. We will soon be spot spraying pastures already in use and cover spraying the large pasture that we are currently using as a hay field. This plant though does grow like a week, literally. It is so easily spread by birds and other wildlife that I don't know if we can ever eradicate it totally but the small amount that remains shouldn't be harmful or even too much of a temptation if we keep the rest of the pasture growing. 

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