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Cherry trees

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  • Cherry trees

    We bought a small farm and are clearing the over-grown pasture and I just realized the pasture has several cherry trees on the fence line and one huge one in the middle of it. My problem is that if we cut down all of the cherry trees, there won't be any shade. Plus new trees will continue to pop up.

    It's a beautiful pasture but now I'm hesitant to bring my horses home. Do all cherry trees have to be removed? Is it likely the horses would leave them alone?

  • #2
    I have 22 acres of pastures, with a couple of fields encompassing some forest. Within the wooded areas are some cherry trees. My horses leave them alone.

    That's my experience in case it is helpful, not to say you should or should not remove your trees.
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    • #3
      If you do keep the trees, you should be sure to remove downed branches immediately and be prepared to clean up the leaves in the fall. You may also want to watch to be sure the horses are not chewing the bark. If there's plenty of grass and/or hay, you should be okay.

      If you get tired of running out there every windy day, you may want to remove them. Meanwhile, maybe you can plant something non-toxic that grows fast in your area.

      Good luck.


      • #4
        The dried leaves are what is poison, so that is why picking up fallen branches is so important.

        Have to say I took all my regrowth wild cherry down. Usually if a pasture has adequate grazing, the horses WILL ignore the dried cherry leaves. My horses had no issue before the cherry tree removal, no sick equines in good sized paddocks and fields. I had trees (small 4-5" trunks) out as part of cleaning the fences and wet spot anyway. Clean fences pack a bigger jolt of electric, so no cherry tree leaves to eat, clean fences, gave me peace of mind.

        You COULD contact a local Nursery and pay to have some larger trees of safe varieties installed in the pasture, then put protective rail fences around them. Putting the bigger trees in with a big tree spade should give them a good start, may need a bit of added watering the first year or three to stay healthy. Big size makes instant impact, saves you growing time. Horses can move around the trees for some shade and you would FEEL better.

        Check with a local Lumber cutting service or sawmill, they might BUY the large cherry tree as furniture wood. I got a GOOD price for one quite large (2+ft trunk) cherry tree, when I had the woodlot harvested to get the new growth hardwood trees more space. I would remove the cherry tree top from field, the wood is not good for horses to chew on. They might say no, but you won't know until you ask a possible buyer!


        • #5
          We put in a new pasture last spring and this winter out horses started eating a willow tree. We had all trees examined and took down all cherries. Literally this past week my sister's horse had weird swellings in her legs. When they got worse my vet came out and his assistant pointed out the tree that all three horses were chewing on (they had a round bale available!) was a cherry. Since we removed all horses from the pasture when we found the swellings the horse will be fine. The other 2 had no symptoms. My sister's horse was pretty sick a few days ago but almost all traces of cyanide are out of her system and the entire tree is being removed this week, leaves and all! Stupid person for mis-idenitfying the tree!
          "People who think their brains are not worth protecting are probably right!"
          - quoted by Martha Drum


          • #6
            It's my understanding that it's not the dried leaves- but the WILTED leaves that are the problem- so it's not like you have to go out and rake up every little leaf in the fall- it's just that you have to check after a windstorm if there are any blowdowns that happened with branches full of green leaves.

            I'd trim branches up to where horses can't pull them down- and I'd fence them off of the big one in the middle of the field-(to protect the tree!) but I would not worry about trying to rid your farm of cherry trees nor would I sacrifice a giant established shade tree. I have lots of cherry trees on my farm and have never had any problems in 15 years. (as long as there is ample good grazing horses usuall keep away from other stuff)


            • #7
              I had some smaller cherry trees along where my back fenceline would butt up to the hedgerow where the cherry trees were located. I had them taken down but I also had a few fir trees back there if the horses wanted shade and the horses could always walk back to the barn as their stall doors were open.

              But if your main concern is lack of shade, you could put up a run in shed for shelter and shade. That would probably run about 3-5K and that may be alot cheaper than a vet bill for sick horses. JMHO

              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


              • #8
                We had cherry and black walnut and never had problems, but now that the herd is down the road with no worrisome trees, I feel a lot better. The black walnuts were on the fence line but the tornado of 2011 took care of them.


                • #9
                  If your horses have enough hay/grass to eat, they will probably leave them alone. I wouldn't let it prevent you from bringing your horses home.

                  Alive cherry trees don't pose much of a threat. Dried, fallen cherry leaves don't pose much of a threat. It's the wilted leaves that are highly toxic, like others have said. But if you want to be safe, you could always put some temporary fencing around them... and be really diligent about checking your field for fallen limbs.
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                  • #10
                    It's the wilted leaves, not dried, not alive, that are the problem.

                    I have several wild cherry trees in my fence line that the mares hang out under all the time. No problems in 10+ years. I keep thinking about taking them down, but come winter I always forget. I don't really have the option of removing horses from that pasture, so I figure winter would be the best time to remove the trees - when there are no leaves on them to wilt.


                    • #11
                      If it were me the cherry trees would have to go.

                      We lost two bucks (goats) due to eating wilted leaves on a downed limb that I didn't know about. Just not worth the worry to me to have the trees.
                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks for the answers everyone. I've decided they have to go. I went out and counted twenty cherry trees just around the pasture. It's not big enough for them to grab a mouth-full of grass without getting cherry tree leaves in their mouth, intentional or not. It just bums me out because the old trees are/were part of the charm of the place


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by willowmeadow View Post
                          Thanks for the answers everyone. I've decided they have to go. I went out and counted twenty cherry trees just around the pasture. It's not big enough for them to grab a mouth-full of grass without getting cherry tree leaves in their mouth, intentional or not. It just bums me out because the old trees are/were part of the charm of the place
                          I know exactly how you feel and I'm sorry. We had an oak that came up very close to my barn forty years ago and we left it. It grew huge and was such a lovely tree.
                          In summer it shaded the barn and we enjoyed sitting under it , too.

                          I wasn't really worried about the tree falling down or dropping limbs on the barn but the roots started running into the stalls. I knew if lightning ever hit that tree it would run right down into the stalls where my horses could be standing. It had to go but I felt like a murderer ordering the tree to be cut down. It really hurt.

                          At least you won't be constantly worrying about a limb down.
                          You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.