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Author Topic: Do Sheep eat Marestail/horsetail?  (Read 595 times)


  • Joined Aug 2020
Do Sheep eat Marestail/horsetail?
« on: August 17, 2020, 12:35:57 pm »
There have been comments on this site in 2008 and also 2016 about sheep eating horsetail without any reported problems. Has anyone got any new information or experience on this?


  • Joined Jan 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Do Sheep eat Marestail/horsetail?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2020, 04:53:35 pm »
Hi Bozza,
We’ve a pond next to our paddock with plenty of marestail established around it but no marestail in the paddock anywhere at all. So I’m pretty sure they (ours at least) eat it. By coincidence I tried giving one a strand last week and she nibbled at it nonchalantly before going back to some clover (She put me in mind of a wine taster).
We’ve black welsh mountains and they appear to eat anything (Docks, cow parsley cut nettles/thistles) before going after the good grass so maybe have a more forgiving palate/tummy but they are all still alive. If you are considering putting some sheep into an area with marestail alone to eat I’d probably wait for someone more experienced to give more advice or ask a vet.
Hope that helps.


  • Joined Sep 2020
Re: Do Sheep eat Marestail/horsetail?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2020, 07:01:35 am »
I am new here, so I am not an expert, but a friend of mine told me his experiences.
So, as far as I know, it is not good if sheeps eat horsetail.
It grows in wet areas and if sheeps eat it they can get dizzy.
He told me that the consume of to much of it causes strumbling, jumpiness and even paralysis.
But the sheeps realy need to eat a lot to experience this suffer.
Just a bit of one plant is not a big deal, I guess.
If you are just worried that your sheeps try one plant were you hold them, this should be ok. But if there is mostly horsetail growing it is not a good place for them.
Hope this is helping :)


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Do Sheep eat Marestail/horsetail?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2020, 10:58:53 am »
I too read the article stating that if sheep eat too much they suffer from "stumbling, jumpiness and even paralysis". It was however published by the Ontario department of Agriculture. Over there this plant grows up to 4ft tall! So could be a different species to what we get in the UK. It also says that the plant is bitter and not attractive to grazing animals.
So without wanting to deny the worst case scenario of the results of an animal eating a lot of this plant, I think we need to get things in perspective.
My take on it is that it can be potentially harmful. But given that it grows to some extent all over the UK and is virtually impossible to eradicate and sheep are not dying in droves from eating it, then there are worse things to worry about.

Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


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