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To read this on the Defra-Website makes my stomach crawl...


However, in the right place, and where there is no risk to animal welfare, ragwort contributes to the biodiversity of the flora and fauna in our countryside.


Where is the right place? Can then only be in the woods or in urban places...


In Germany it is officially tolerated where it can do no harm. But not in areas with mainly agricultural use. This includes villages, beside roads etc.

But it has still been used by the road maintenance depots for greening at the roadside. Obviously they didn't even know what they were doing until I told them. After handing out the leaflet of the authorities they planted something else.


Because it is wide spread in our area it's probably only a question of time until we ourselves have problems. I started working together with our agricultural department, handing out leaflets (most people had problems to identify the plants), giving information and advise to collegue farmers... surprisingly farmers were very keen on advise.

There was just one farmer undiscerning but after some others informed him if he was not acting now they would plough his meadows and there would then not be any silage for him this year... he changed his mind.


Many people get ragwort mixed up with the harmless Wiesenpippau (don't know the Englisch word so botanically it's called Crepis Biennis) which is a pity because this is a good feed crop.


Larger areas of ragwort are identified by the authorities when they controll grazings and other areas according to cross compliance regulations.


@ Francis: So if I do move to Shetland I will have to join you fighting ragwort


Abouts docks: I do have them on the hay meadows but not on the grazing areas. Reason might be that only on the meadows once a year manure is brought out there but not on the grazing. The seeds of docks pass through the cows more or less undigested... and our neighbours cows (it's their manure on our fields) get lots of docks in their silage, that might explain it.


But the docks are not really a big problem, after a rainy day I just use this:




Thistles: I have never seen the necessity of fighting them. This might be due to the fact, that they are not poisonous. Quite the contrary some species are very good for the liver (animals and humans). Our animals seem to know this because they all like the thistles (dried as well as fresh). They eat them root and branch. Milk thistle I do even grow an a small area because I need it as a remedy for a stallion who had atypical myopathy two years ago and since a liver problem. To buy the stuff at the chemist costs a fortune.


Nettles: I do cut them with a scythe, let them dry in the sun afterwards and offer them for feeding. Horses and goats eat them, my cows won't (spoilt brats).

Young fresh nettles can be used like lettuce or spinach, dried ones for a cup of tea.

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haha I'm not the only person who grows a patch of milk thistles then ! To our ponies they are obviously the treat to beat all other treats, I have to make sure i drop 3 seperate piles of them in the field or all hell breaks out & our icelandic horse just loves scotch thistle, eaten with delicate care but every inch savoured, brings tears to your eyes just to watch them.

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Our lot eat thistles.








Also fields that have never shown any hint of ragwort can suddenly be growing it in copious amounts if the ditches or soil is disturbed. This has happened to me on a 5 acre croft after I stupidly had drainage ditches dug to make the land more useable. I know have a 5 acre cash-crop of ragwort which has to be sprayed or pulled for 1 hour a day for 6 months of the year.


I got through BBC Radio 4's dramatization of Lord Of the Rings in one year just attacking my ragwort!

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nice pics!

But it's some other species of thistles.


That's how the milk thistle looks like:


The plants can grow very big, up to my size (I am just 1.58m) and one has to cut off the ends of the very sharp tips underneath the blossom before feeding because they are like needles.


But my horses also love all other sorts of thistles...


Something else since we are just talking about "weeds":


anyone growing topinambur (helianthus tuberosus)?


This is really my favourite plant: the bulbs can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled by us, horses, goats and cows eat it raw. Blossom, stems and leaves can be eaten by the animals fresh or dried, the green stuff is great for chicken...

Only problem: whereever you grow it there is always someone who also likes it... wild boar, mice, wild rabbits... so one might not harvest too many

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  • 1 month later...

In Foula here, we've noticed the Siskins eating the ragwort seeds on plants that have been missed.


On constantly grazed land that is then fenced and managed, ragwort has reared it's ugly head.


We just stick to constant vigilance in pulling the plant before it seeds (most of the time without the roots) to keep the problem under check. As said previously, one years seed, seven years weed.


I've started pulling dock seed heads as a control measure for these.

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