Navigating Capeweed And Horses


Capeweed and horses go together about as much as dogs and chocolate do, but how do you safely keep your equine friends away from this potentially toxic plant? 

Somewhat surprisingly, capeweed is a member of the sunflower family, and is classified as a noxious weed in southern, central and eastern regions of Australia. Native to South Africa, the seeds are commonly dispersed short distances by wind, but can also become attached to birds, animals, shoes and clothing. The seeds are also spread into new areas via contaminated soil, dumped garden waste, by vehicles and machinery, and in contaminated agricultural produce (i.e. fodder).

Traditionally appearing from February to about April, capeweed forms a rosette of grey-green succulent leaves and has daisy-like flowers with black centres in spring and early summer. Capeweed is similar to many other rosette types of weeds, the only difference being the leaves have white and quite hairy undersides. 

Unfortunately capeweed can produce up to 4000 seeds per annum, which can stay dormant in the soil for several years waiting for the right conditions in order to germinate. Somewhat resembling a dandelion, the good news is that capeweed is relatively easy to spot thanks to it’s striking yellow flower.

Why Capeweed And Horses Don’t Mix 

Although capeweed doesn’t contain a known plant toxin as such, it can accumulate extremely high levels of nitrate in high fertility sites (stock camps and stock yards). While it often can taint white milk from dairy cattle, it can also cause nitrogen poisoning in other livestock too. The risk is higher within the first week of rain after a long drought, as nitrate can also build up in dry soil after long periods of hot and arid weather. 

When compared to the potential effects the weed has on other agriculture, capeweed and horses have a particularly odd relationship. On top of the above effects, capeweed can actually cause a magnesium deficiency in horses that can lead to abnormally nervous horses, with some even developing stringhalt

Issues with capeweed and horses usually arise as a result of overgrazing. If your grazing area is too small, you have too many horses in the one grazing area, or the grazing land isn’t rested enough to give it a chance to recover, the land and soil isn’t as resistant to heat, and can encourage the growth of pesky plants just like capeweed. 

While introducing dolomite to the horse’s food or on the weeds is a short term solution, ultimately it’s a good idea to try and get on top of the weeds as soon as you can. However, many animal lovers struggle to find a product that is safe to use around their pets, and gets the job done. The good news is that there’s now a solution. 

Controlling Capeweed Safely With Bioweed

Anyone who shares their home with animals – big or small – knows that the utmost care is required when using pesticides or herbicides around them. This also applies to farmers with livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) present in their pastures. The good news is that there is a chemical free and natural alternative that is safe for both human and animal inhabitants. 

Bioweed customer Logan Brown is an avid equine lover, and spends much of her time at home riding and training eventing horses. A more recent hobby of hers is retraining racing horses, so that they can compete in the same style of eventing. Needless to say – the arena on her Victorian property certainly gets a workout, and requires regular attention to keep it in top condition. In an effort to combat leafy invaders to her arena that have previously included capeweed, Logan regularly uses Bioweed as an organic herbicide weed killer. 

That’s why here at Bioweed, we recommend that you slush down (or spray with water) your capeweed before applying your herbicide. This will get you better results, but it also can be more economical. Bioweed also has the added effect of seed control, which thankfully allows you to control and stay on top of the 4000 or so seeds that capeweed produces. You can use Bioweed near your pets and your livestock without having to move them all or keep them out of the paddock or pasture, making it perfect to use around your home or your property.

If you would like to know more about organic weed solutions, please get in touch with us today at Bioweed to discuss ways we can help to combat weeds organically at your property.