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Illinois Livestock Trail by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION


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QUESTION
I'm a horse owner in Franklin County and I am getting ready to move my 3 horses to about a 2 acre spot to winter them for their turnout time while my regular pasture recuperates until spring. I wintered horses there last year with no problem, but there is approx. 10 wild cherry trees in amongst a scrub patch of woods along a creek bank in this spot. I know about the toxicity problems with these trees concerning falling branches, and wilting leaves. Are the leaves just as toxic when they have naturally fallen off in fall? My vet was unsure. I have already encountered some problems with acorns and black locust pods this fall, so now I'm concerned about these cherry trees. Thanks.


ANSWER

The freshly wilted leaves are toxic in the fall. Since we just had a freeze, they would be the worst right about now. If the horses have plenty of hay and other forage to eat, they probably won't bother with the cherry leaves enough to cause toxicity, but I wouldn't necessarily count on that. The same thing goes for the dried leaves later this fall - the leaves won't likely have enough palatability to cause a problem unless the horses don't have anything else to eat. If I were you, though, I would cut all the cherry trees down that I could identify and remove them from the turnout area. This will be an ongoing process, because birds will continue to deposit cherry seeds in this area, especially along the creek bank where they go to drink and along fence rows where they land and roost.







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