Buttercup Toxicity in Horses, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products

Many of us love when the pastures start to fill in. It can mean less hay consumption and shiny horses. But it also can spell trouble if the wrong kind of plants grow in your pasture. Beautiful though those yellow flowers may be, they can cause problems for our equine pals.


Those pretty yellow flowers can cause problems in your pasture.

Buttercup is a bright yellow flower found in pastures throughout North America. They thrive in areas that have been overgrazed. Horses usually avoid eating them because they are very bitter.

Buttercups release a toxic oil called protoanemonin. Toxicity levels vary with plant type and maturity. They are most toxic during the early stages of growth and remain dangerous through the flowering stage. Depending on where you live, you see Buttercups from April to August. If cut and baled with hay, the oil quickly dissipates and the plant no longer presents a danger.

Signs of Buttercup toxicity:

Mild cases

  • Blister on lips
  • Swelling of face
  • Excessive salivation
  • Mild colic
  • Diarrhea that might be bloody

Severe cases

  • Twitching of the skin
  • Paralysis
  • Convulsions

The best way to avoid problems is to irradiate the weed by spraying or mechanical removal. Proper pasture management that includes rotational grazing, fertilization and reseeding will help keep your pasture healthy and weed-free.

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Performance Products

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:


Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce skin inflammation and mitigate allergic response. Contribute delivers both plant and marine sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Feed one to two ounces per day, depending on severity of the allergy.

Need tips on how to manage allergies? Check out this KPP infographic: Got Allergies?

The horse that matters to you matters to us®. KPPusa.com