Beware of the risk of toxic seeds in pastures

Vets are warning horse owners in Northumberland to beware of the risks of toxic seeds.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) have issued the alert as the first cases this year are reported of fatal muscle disease in animals that have eaten sycamore seeds.

Recent research has shown that Seasonal Pasture Myopathy, previously known as Atypical Myopathy, is caused by the toxin hypoglycin A, which is contained in tree seeds, including sycamore.

High winds last year resulted in considerable contamination of pastures with seeds and a four-fold increase in cases of the horse disease were reported.

Owners are advised to restrict access to seeds by using temporary fencing, ensure horses have access to good quality pasture, move horses off pasture at times of risk, provide supplementary feed in the field to minimise the risk of horses ingesting seeds, avoid leaving wet hay on the ground that can trap seeds, and avoid pruning seed-laden trees.