equine health

Questions & Answers

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My Horse Has A Passion For Dandelions.

My horse has recently been suffering from a virus/cough. During this period she has developed a passion for Dandelions. On the way to the field there are a lot of large (i.e. 2 feet tall) wild dandelion plants.

I let her eat these for about 5 mins or I cut her some sufficient to fill half her manger. Is there a limit on how much you should give them and are the plants OK compared to the dandelion flower?

Deidre C.


Dear Deidre

The whole dandelion plant (flower, root and leaf) is a tonic food for humans and animals. (See Herb Usage/Dandelions for more info on the medicinal uses of dandelions). The leaves contain chlorophyll and a sap that is anti-viral. Instinctively, your horse knows this will help her get over his viral infection.

I would not advise feeding dandelion leaves or flowers ad lib, as they have properties that stimulate the production of bile. Bile being necessary to digest food and fats. However, bile production in excess would result in loose faeces, liver and intestinal discomfort.

50 grams of fresh leaves daily for a 500kg horse would be an ideal amount (10 grams per 100kgs weight) 50 grams would be about a salad bowl full.

I am a little concerned about the height of the dandelions you refer to, 2 feet sounds big and lush. Are you sure they are dandelions? Please check a wild flower book as you may be feeding a large leaved variety of sow thistle or hawkweed, plants closely related to dandelion with yellow daisy flowers and sappy hollow stems. Hawkweed and Sow thistles were used in bygone times by herbalists for wheezing chests and coughs. Livestock are fond of their juicy leaves and chicory taste.

Invest in a comprehensive wild flower book such as Cassell's Wild Flowers of Britain & Northern Europe. This book has the advantage of illustrated plates showing families of similar plant species drawing attention to their similarities and differences which makes identification easy.

For more details, click on the illustration on the left for details, on purchasing & delivery from our associates Amazon Books.

I suggest to help your horse's immune system recover quickly from any viral infection you consider supplementing his feed with immune stimulating herbs. Take a look at The Equine Herbalist for a suitable product www.equineherbalist.co.uk

Hope this information has been helpful

equine herbalist

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