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HorseDVM, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
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Experience:  In-hospital and ambulatory experience. Focus on lameness and internal med.
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Is johnson grass in a pasture a death sentence for a horse

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Is johnson grass in a pasture a death sentence for a horse?
Johnson grass is a "toxic plant" - it contains a cyanide compound. However, horses are less prone to toxic effects from Johnson grass, since they don't metabolize it like cows and other ruminants do. A small amount of the grass in a pasture is not really a big deal, as long as other grasses are also represented and available for munching. It does become more toxic if it is stressed (drought conditions, frost, etc). So, if the pasture in question is in a drought-stricken area and is >50% Johnson grass, I would look elsewhere for safe turnout. But, if there is a healthy stand of assorted grass including the occasional patch of Johnson grass, I would not consider that a "death sentence" to the horse. I hope that helps, and please let me know if you have any further questions!
Dr. Karen
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