COMPLAINTS about ‘ragwort’ in England have risen by over 20 per cent between 2016 and 2018.

Commonly called ‘Stinking Willie’ and ‘Mare’s Fart’ due to its strong, bitter odour, the striking ragwort plant with its pretty yellow flowers is toxic to any horse who eats enough of it, potentially causing liver damage, liver failure and death.

Yorkshire-based horse insurance provider, the Insurance Emporium, have revealed the trend with information sourced from several public bodies across the UK.

The Insurance Emporium’s chief executive officer, Francis Martin, said: “Whilst ragwort plays an important environmental role in supporting other wildlife including the Cinnabar Moth, it can prove toxic for horses if eaten in enough volume.

“Proper land management is the way to go to ensure that grazing is ragwort-free and safe for horses. It is also important to check hay and haylage for ragwort.

“If your horse does ingest ragwort or something similarly poisonous, make sure you seek your vet’s advice immediately.”

In the Insurance Emporium’s research, Yorkshire was ragwort capital of the UK whilst Aberdeenshire followed closely behind. Scotland had the second highest number of ragwort complaints in the UK after England.

Even so, numbers were markedly lower with Scottish Natural Heritage receiving just 20 per cent of the complaints filed in England.

The picture in Northern Ireland seemed a lot rosier, with the Northern Irish Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs revealing that just 30 official complaints had been filed during this time period.

Wales had the least ragwort complaints of all according to Welsh Assembly figures, with just 9 ragwort complaints being recorded there.