Equestrian, Agricultural & Amenity Contractors

Paddock Maintenance Specialists

Bumper crop of acorns causing misery to horse owners

16th August 2017

This years’ enormous yield of acorns is causing problems within the horse community. Owners are being asked to be extra vigilant this year as particularly the strong crop of fruit has resulted in an abundance of acorns falling in the recent late autumnal.

If large amounts of acorns, oak leaves or oak branches are ingested it is potentially fatal as they are highly toxic and can result in kidney failure, colic, bloody diarrhoea and death. Treatment is limited as there is no specific antidote. Most horses will not chose to eat acorns if they have adequate forage, but occasionally they develop a taste for them and will seek them out. Hannah Edgson from Seadown vets said, “Its worse than most people can remember. No acorn is safe – so take them seriously and don’t take risks.” (Horse & Hound 14/11/13)

Ways to keep your horse safe:

  • Fence off Oak trees and keep your horse out of the wind path of falling oak leaves and branches.
  • Check your fields regularly for fallen branches and clear them out of reach. Remember the leaves, branches and blossom are equally poisonous.
  • Every autumn clear your acorns by either getting them hoovered up with a mechanical muck collector, or if in small quantities rake them up.
  • Move your horse in the autumn to a field free of acorns.

There is no scientific evidence as to how many ingested acorns can poison a horse as they all contain the tannins which are potentially lethal to horses, cattle, sheep and alpacas.

Watch your horse carefully for signs of lethargy. If he starts to develop diarrhoea or constipation and you suspect he has consumed acorns call your vet immediately.

Shire Country Services can provide an efficient and effective vacuuming service to clear fallen acorns from your fields. The tractor powered vacuum is powerful enough to lift a concrete block as well as suck up acorns, leaves and horse muck.

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