A HUMBLE weed found all over Milton Keynes could be the death of horses and grazing livestock, warns the RSPCA.
The charity has this week launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of ragwort.
The yellow flowering plant is highly poisonous to animals – and also humans.
RSPCA spokesman Sally Philips said: “Just a small intake of over a long period of time can be just as damaging as a large intake on a single occasion.
“And sadly ragwort poisoning does not show symptoms until liver damage has occurred and it is usually too late to save the animals.”
Animals may initially lose weight and suffer from depression, loss of appetite, constipation, sunburn and jaundice.
In the later stages animals may suffer further distressing symptoms including loss of coordination, breathing difficulties, blindness or convulsions.
Mrs Phillips said: “It appears people are still not aware of the dangers ragwort poses to horses or livestock.
“It is heartbreaking when we see fields covered with this potentially lethal plant and it is growing next to where horses or livestock are happily grazing.”
She is urging anybody who spots ragwort in their garden or in the countryside to remove the plant with sturdy gloves and burn it.
Horse and livestock owners who find ragwort on their land are urged to move the animals to another area immediately.