As pasture growth begins to wane in many areas, horses might begin seeking different things to chew on, such as weeds or trees in their pastures. While some weeds do no harm, others can be toxic to horses. And researchers in Australia determined that marsh mallow weed (Malva parviflora)—which grows in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand—is one of the dangerous species that can be deadly to horses.
Reports of M. parviflora toxicosis are rare in horses. But Jennifer Bauquier, BVMS (Hons), Dipl. ACVIM, an equine medicine lecturer at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, in Victoria, and colleagues recently completed a study on the topic after the deaths four horses residing on the same farm. The horses had little access to quality forage and did not receive supplementary grain concentrate. There was extensive M. parviflora in the horses’ pasture, and the animals had grazed it heavily.