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Mulberries Poisonous??

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  • Mulberries Poisonous??

    Are mulberries or mulberry trees poisonous to horses? The ASPCA says they are not, however a friend of ours says they are. Well, she said they are very bad for horses and will cause colic.

  • #2
    free access to any kind of fruit can cause colic and laminitis in horses. It's the sugar. Yes, that is toxic to some of us.
    Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


    • #3
      Not poisonous, but you wouldn't feed your horse 20 pounds of apples either (would you?).

      Where I ride there are a lot of mulberry trees, I pick the ripe ones for my horses and myself...they're good. Go to a Persion market, you'll find the white mulberries dried like raisins...very good too!

      Nothing to excess for the horses....mulberryies won't hurt them any more than feeding them sweet stuff of any type (sugar lumps, fruit etc.). They do stain britches and chaps amazingly well. I had a Fjord mare who would lay under a mulberry tree...looked like she was in a paintball fight.
      "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


      • #4
        I have always, always had mulberry trees in my horse's pastures, for decades, and I've never had an issue with them. The horses I've had have never found them even remotely enticing and they don't eat them at all.


        • #5
          I used to have a horse who would just about strip a mulberry tree for the fruit, with no ill effects.
          Amateur rider, professional braider.
          Save a life, adopt a pet.


          • #6
            There are mulberry trees in the pasture where I ride, have been for 50+ years. Most of the horses really like the foliage from them, a few like the fruit. Other than an occasional loose poop from over indulgence right after a rain, there have never been any ill effects.
            bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
            free bar.ka and tidy rabbit


            • #7
              Probably like acorns. Some horses can gorge with no ill effects. Other eat 5 and are colicking.

              I boarded at a barn with a huge mulberry tree right in the pasture, and ever year the horses would eat all the berries. One horse stripped all the branches and leaves as high as she could reach which, at 17.3, was HIGH

              Not something I'd recommend putting out there, but if it's there, it's not necessarily a bad thing. To be watched, for sure.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                Actually, Mulberry is beneficial for reducing blood glucose levels. Beneficial for IR.
                It also has many other medicinal properties such as strengthening the liver, the kidneys and boosting the immune system and is a strong antioxidant. The young stems, young leaves are high in minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium. There are many other beneficial attributes to the Mulberry trees. A 5 year study has shown the tree to have several strong preventive effects with regard to diabetes, cancer, hypertension and anti-inflammatory properties. The study results can be viewed here:
                --Gwen <><
                "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                • Original Poster

                  Well, the one small paddock we put up in the front of our place happens to have a mulberry tree in it. Now its not a paddock that they will be allowed in day in and day out - its just another paddock to give them some grass while rotating and resting other paddocks. But my friend came over, saw the tree in the paddock and said I better get that tree out of there first because it is bad for the horses and will cause them to colic. I just wanted to make sure - because I could cut it down, but I would rather not if I don't have to. I will however definitely keep an eye on the horses out there - and hope that they will be more interested in the grass instead of the tree while turned out there!!


                  • #10
                    We have a mulberry tree, also, in the front yard. When I 'hand graze' the guys out there they all love the leaves and berries. No ill effects, ever. I don't mind them chewing on the trees etc. as its all forage for them and all good. There are, of course, a few trees and shrubs that ARE poisonous: Wild Cherries, Oleander, Yew, Mountain Laurel + more. This is a good reference for toxic plants etc. for livestock and horses: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/
                    --Gwen <><
                    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                    • Original Poster

                      Caballus, thanks for the reference

                      Now someone on another forum sent this to me....


                      What do you make of that??????


                      • #12
                        Well -- here's the toxic report from the ASPCA:

                        So, I guess one just has to be careful and be moderate, as in all things.

                        Horses, if they have enough other, healthy forages to eat, generally instinctively know what they can and cannot eat safely. Given that, if they're hungry then they'll eat what they can get their mouths on including toxic forages.
                        --Gwen <><
                        "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                        • #13
                          I work at a zoo and we feed Mulberry to any of our animals that will eat it, including the zebra. They never get it in huge amounts, but our Horticulture staff has researched the toxicity of any browse plants that we might offer our animals.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by caballus View Post
                            Horses, if they have enough other, healthy forages to eat, generally instinctively know what they can and cannot eat safely.
                            This statement is not backed up by science. Please see:


                            Equine clinical nutrition: feeding and care By Lon D. Lewis page 147
                            Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post
                              This statement is not backed up by science. Please see:


                              Equine clinical nutrition: feeding and care By Lon D. Lewis page 147
                              Herbalist Maurice Messegue, in "Wild Health" by Cindy Engel states that wild animals generally never poison themselves while "domesticated animals more readily succumb to plant poisoning. Not surprising, natural selection hones the skills needed to avoid and deal with poisoning.

                              ...In addition to the physiological adaptations specific to each species for dealing with toxins - detection mechanisms, specially adapted biochemical pathways, or detoxifying microorganisms - each has different behavioral strategies as well.
                              Herbivores, with their evolutionary history of dealing with plant defensive chemicals, are generally better adapted for dealing with plant poisons than omnivores; ..." p.52.

                              "Herbivores have at least two broad options for avoiding plant toxins. One is to specialize, to put all of their resources into dealing with a limited range of toxins. The other is to generalize, to dilute the toxin load by taking in smaller amounts of a greater range of toxins."

                              Perhaps that is why some horses do well eating Mulberrys and others are affected by it. Or Oak leaves and acorns. or Red Maple bark, trees, branches, leaves etc. My herd will chow down on acorns and oak leaves, fallen branches as well as chew on the Red Maples (but I do remove excessive detached leaves during the fall from their paddock to the best of my abilities) ... but will leave the Buttercups, the Poke Weed, the Nightshades alone. All of which are deadly toxic and because of their abundance are pretty much impossible to eradicate from their environment. They also have Bracken Fern and various species of Mushrooms which they leave alone as well.

                              If I were to add a NEW horse to the herd who was not familiar with the plants then I would be more motivated to figure out a way to cordon them off from the parts of the area that has the most offensive plant matter.

                              I've grown up, however, reading, hearing, learning that generally speaking, if horses have enough forage to eat (24/7 hay offering or 24/7 grass available) they will not seek out other less palatable/toxic plants. It's pretty much impossible to keep horses on large properties and completely eradicate all the toxic vegetation.
                              --Gwen <><
                              "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                              • #16
                                I had a huge and very productive pear tree smack in the middle of my barn lot in OH. When the pears got ripe I would pick them up as they fell (sometimes racing my horses, as well as the yellow-jackets to get at the fruit first.)

                                When the pears really started falling I'd put a tarp down, knock the fruit down on it with a long piece of wood, can or eat or give or throw away the surplus, and just try to keep the amount of fruit available to the horses down to a few dozen pears as opposed to a few bushels of pears. Horses ate pears, I ate pears, yellow-jackets ate pears, and nobody died. In fact, I dont recall anyone getting stung.

                                But that was a gradual introduction of pears to the diet, and the horses never had the chance to stand knee deep in the things and eat until they foundered. I expect in the case of mulberries the horses would be competing with birds and wouldnt get every berry off the tree, and similarly wouldnt necessarily suffer any ill effects.

                                I am more leery of persimmons, since they have big old seeds that could conceivably cause an impaction colic. Persimmons were implicated in the death of a pony next door. She loved 'simmons and one year she foundered, apparently because she had too many. Horses WILL make fools of themselves for them.