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Revised Guidance for inclusion on all grassland herbicide labels to reflect new advice on the risk to farm animals from Common Ragwort

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Regulatory Update: 05/2016

Issued: 2nd March 2016


This Regulatory Update provides text to be included on all grassland herbicide labels to reflect the latest research on the risks to farm animals from Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).


Common Ragwort is a specified weed under the Weeds Act 1959. It contains toxins which can have debilitating or fatal consequences if eaten by horses and other grazing animals. Livestock generally avoid eating live ragwort plants unless no alternative forage is available including ragwort that has fully recovered following any herbicide treatment. Recently completed Defra research shows that the ragwort plant is most attractive to many farm animals after the Ragwort plant has been treated but before the weed has fully decomposed. As a result, HSE consulted with Defra and the CPA on proposals to introduce revised labels for all grassland herbicides to make clear the risks of allowing animals to re-enter herbicide-treated fields either before the ragwort plant had fully decomposed or had recovered and started to re-grow.

New label phrases to be adopted

An Amendment Notice has been issued for all herbicides authorised for use on 'Grassland'. Labels must be amended as follows:
Where it currently appears in the 'SAFETY PRECAUTIONS' section of the authorised label for any product, the following phrase (or any variation thereof) must be deleted.

"Livestock must be kept out of treated areas [for at least x days/weeks following treatment] and until poisonous weeds such as ragwort have died and become unpalatable."

In the 'SAFETY PRECAUTIONS' the following phrase must appear:

Livestock must be kept out of treated areas [for at least x days/weeks following treatment] IF RAGWORT IS PRESENT, FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE IN THE 'DIRECTIONS FOR USE'

The following phrase must appear in the 'DIRECTIONS FOR USE'

"Where ragwort is present users should consult the Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort. Ragwort plants sprayed with this herbicide are more palatable and contain higher levels of toxins. Animals should be excluded from treated areas until any ragwort has completely recovered or died and there is no visible sign of the dead weed. Do not include treated ragwort in hay or silage crops."

All labels should be amended at the next print-run and no later than 1st October 2016.

Further Information

Updated 2020-08-11