Feeding Comfrey to Horses and Cows
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Teresa Dutton
Posted on: February 21, 2008

I have heard that you can feed fresh or dried comfrey leaves to horses and cows but I have not been able to find any info about his as being fact and safe. Could you help shed some light on this please?

Whilst both horses and cows can eat fresh or dried comfrey leaves, it is best not to feed them these on a daily basis but rather medicinally for certain conditions if they arise, such as: stomach ulcers, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or respiratory conditions. Juliette de Bairacli-Levy also writes of its use for other concerns in her "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable". The controversy to which you refer is due to studies which showed the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in comfrey (particularly the root) can be accumulative and hepato-toxic (toxic to the liver). However, most herbalists would agree that the whole plant (leaf in this case) has been consumed by animals for centuries on a foraging basis with no ill effect. One source I found stated that for any "... inflammation of the digestive tract, a handful of fresh leaves or 2-3 ounces of the dried leaves can be fed to horses or other large herbivores on a daily basis for up to two weeks... in all cases of internal use, feeding of Comfrey should be limited to occasional short-term therapies." (Wulff-Tilford and Tilford, 1999).

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