Is There Such A Thing As Toxic Fencing For Horses?

Educated horse owners are aware of the toxicity of red maple leaves, but are fence posts and boards made from maple trees safe to use around horses? Dr. Anthony Knight tells EQUUS magazine that there is very little toxin in the trunk of maple trees, so lumber made from maples poses very little risk – even if the horse chews or cribs on the wood.

Wilted leaves of the red maple contain a tannin called gallic acid that damages horse’s hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen. A horse that ingests three pounds or more of wilted or dried red maple leaves could have organ and tissue failure because of the lack of oxygen in his blood.

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Gallic acid has also been found in silver maples and sugar maples. All three maple species are found in the United States and are commonly used in landscaping. There are myriad hybrids and cultivars from these trees, as well. The leaves from all of them should be kept away from horses, Knight says.

The majority of the toxin is found in the tree’s leaves when they become wilted, but there is some toxin in both the bark and branches of the trees. Horses do not typically ingest enough of these to cause damage to their organs.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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