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Calendula officinalis flower, marigold with dried flowers. Bouquet isolated on white background.

As autumn begins to arrive we see the constant flow of acorns often unwantedly disappearing rapidly into our horses mouths. Most horse owners are concerned about the risk posed by their horses eating acorns in the autumn. So how can we help support our horses during this time?

Acorns contain high levels of tannins, which have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. In the wild chickweed grows under most oak trees – Chickweed, and Marigold / Calendula – contain high levels of saponins which are thought to be able to neutralise tannins. When animals in the wild are able to sequentially graze i.e. they select to ingest acorns for the above properties, they are normally then able to find plants containing saponins such as chickweed or calendula, to neutralise any unwanted effects of the tannins.  In susceptible horses tannin poisoning can result in colic, kidney failure, colic, bloody diarrhoea and occasionally death. When kept in paddocks without a natural array of herbs (for example in paddocks that have been sprayed to remove ‘weeds’) the horses will select acorns, but will be unable to find saponins to neutralise any unwanted effects.  In addition, certain horses actively seek out acorns in high numbers, and if susceptible this can put them at high risk of acorn poisoning. This is when problems such as colic sets in!  I am lucky as my fields are natural and unsprayed, and still have a lot of chickweed in them! Interestingly, tannins are also found in devils claw, so horses selecting devils claw should also be offered calendula and chickweed! Please note acorn poisoning can kill and if you have any concerns please consult your vet immediately.

It is always best to physically remove acorns from a horses environment if possible, however, if this is not possible, to reduce the risk of serious health issues it is really important that if your horses have access to acorns that you offer calendula and chickweed (your horses will normally have a preference for one of the other) daily by self-selection i.e. let them take as much as they need to rebalance their body. We provide the following products to offer your animals:

In addition to the potential (for some horses) toxins created by the tannins in the acorns, there may be toxins released into the horse’s system due to the sudden introduction of a “new feed”.  When the balanced microbial population in the large intestine is disrupted by the sudden introduction of different feeds / poisons,  laminitis often results.  Large numbers of beneficial bacteria die and poisonous endotoxins are released into the bloodstream. Ongoing support with Plusbac Feed will support the healthy gut bacteria which is always the first line of defence!

All products are available in bulk quantities – please call 01483 608322 for a quotation if the size option you require is not on the site. It is often easiest to use the search bar on the right of the site to find the products you want! Please note our products make no medicinal claims, they simply support the body towards natural health.