Return to Heavy Horses Online Home Page

ragwort kills heavy draft horsesRagwort is poisonous to horses, ponies, and donkeys. Every year it kills hundreds of these animals. Because of this it is one of five harmful weeds in the UK that are covered by the provisions of The Weeds Act 1959. Under this act the Secretary of State may serve an enforcement notice on the occupier of land on which ragwort is growing, requiring him or her to take action to prevent its spread.

In November 2003 further steps were taken to control Ragwort when the Ragwort Control Act was adopted by Parliament. The Act was sponsored by The British Horse Society.

The Ragwort Control Act gave the Secretary of State the power to make a Code of Practice to prevent the spread of Ragwort. By promoting good practice the code aims to reduce significantly the number of cases of horses and other animals being poisioned by ragwort.

The Code give advice on:

Identification of Common Ragwort 

Risk assessment and priorities for ragwort control 

Control methods their suitability and efficacy 

Environmental considerations  

Health and safety issues 

The Code will also make it easier to prosecute people who disregard the need to control Ragwort. Similarly, those who have followed the guidance laid down in the Code, would be able to use this in their defence in any Court proceedings.

How to complain about the spread of Ragwort

 1: If you are concerned about Ragwort spreading to your land, you must first approach the owner or occupier of the land on which the weeds are growing and ask them to take steps to clear them.
2:  In the case of Ragwort growing alongside the motorway or trunk roads, you should contact the Highways Agency (tel: 08457 50 40 30).

For other roads you should contact your local highways authority which is normally the County Council or Unitary Authority.

If Ragwort is growing on railway land and embankments you should contact Network Rail (tel: 08457 11 41 41).
3: If, after contacting the landowner or occupier nothing is done you can complete a Weeds Act complaint form (Weed 2 Rev 7/03), which should then be returned to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at their Bristol or Crewe offices as appropriate. The two offices deal with different areas of the Country so it is important your form is returned to the right office. If you are unsure of which office you should return your form too click here for more information. It is important to note that DeFRA will only accept forms which are signed and sent to them through the post. They will not accept e-mails.

How to control Ragwort

Detailed advice on the best ways to kill Ragwort is given in the DeFRA information notes -
The Weeds Act 1959 - Guidance Note on the methods that can be used to control harmful weeds

Further Information

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publish a number of useful leaflets and booklets concerning Ragwort and its control.

Code of Practice to prevent the spread of Ragwort
The Weeds Act 1959 - Guidance Note on the methods that can be used to control harmful weeds
The Weeds Act 1959 - Preventing the spread of harmful weeds
Identification of injurious weeds

You may need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read some of the above documents. It can be downloaded free from Adobe 

 Return To Heavy Horses Online Home Page

(c) Heavy Horses Online 2007