Careful: Blister Beetles in Alfalfa Hay

For those horse owners who are running low on hay after a long winter, be warned. Alfalfa hay contains blister beetles that are accidentally gathered during baling. These insects contain a toxin called cantharidin which causes ulcers in the horse’s intestines.

We are not discouraging you from choosing alfalfa hay but don’t just pick up whatever is leftover at your supplier to keep going until spring pasture start to grow. Make sure your alfalfa hay is clear of mold and try and check for blister beetles in the stack before feeding it to your horses.

Alfalfa hay containing blister beetles carry toxins

A clear sign your horse has ingested this toxin from blister beetles is colic. If you suspect your horse has colic get him to a veterinarian right away as it could be life threatening.

Treatment for Blister Beetle Toxin and Other Alternatives

Researchers and veterinarians suggest activated charcoal or smectite as treatment for colic.

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