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‘Fright purple weed … pretty but deadly’: Invasive pest a challenge for horse riders

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‘Fright purple weed … pretty but deadly’: Invasive pest a challenge for horse riders

From bushfires to COVID-19, the past 18 months have not been easy for the Using for the Disabled (RDA) Manning Great Lakes Centre on the Modern South Wales Mid North Coast.

Key parts:

  • Ageratum houstonianum, also identified as blue billygoat weed, has infested paddocks
  • The tainted weed was making horses unwell and many have been relocated
  • The Manning Great Lakes Centre was plot to reopen after a 12 month-prolonged resulting from COVID-19, but can’t unless the weed is beneath maintain an eye on

But the centre has hasten into another astronomical challenge — a tainted weed identified as Ageratum houstonianum, or blue billygoat weed, has fully taken over.

Early Newspaper

“We have now acquired six paddocks and this dismay purple weed has infested your complete lot,” Manning Great Lakes RDA administrator Sue Harding-White said.

“After the fires went via they made our grounds sour, and then all the rain. It be the particular breeding ground for the weed to take over.”

Women with long, grey, curly hair, sad expression, in front on bushes with purple flower.

Sue Harding-White said the horses regularly accidentally ingest the weed when grazing the paddocks.(

ABC Rural: Keely Johnson

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Ms Harding-White first seen the weed popping up about the property at the same time a horse fell in wretched health with a stomach ulcer.

“[The horse was] frail and frail age can cause that [stomach ulcers], but this purple weed was fairly prevalent at the time so I had my suspicions,” she said.

To make certain no more animals fell unwell, Ms Harding-White had to relocate almost half the herd.

“I have had to transfer horses and agist them on a various property away from the weed,” she said.

“We finest have four horses peaceful at the dwelling on the particular weed-free paddock.”

Brown horse in grey coat standing on brown dirt paddock.

One in all the remaining horses in the particular weed-free paddock at the Using for the Disabled venue.(

ABC Rural: Keely Johnson

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‘We want to catch back to riding’

Priscilla Discipline has autism and was a regular rider at the Manning Great Lakes RDA. 

While the centre is temporarily closed, she has been unable to catch on a horse, but peaceful comes along every Thursday with her aunty Robin Schep to assist out. 

“Here is the highlight of her week,” Ms Schep said. 

“Priscilla lives somewhat remotely so coming right here is great for her to socialise.

Two women with horses.

Robin Schep (left) brings her niece Priscilla Discipline (lawful) to the centre to assist catch it back on its toes. (

ABC Rural: Keely Johnson

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Ms Harding-White said she hoped to catch a handle on the blue billygoat weed infestation over frigid weather.

“We’re really hoping to be on top of it by subsequent spring after we have now acquired the summer-spring grasses coming,” she said.

“As soon as we catch the weed beneath maintain an eye on we can catch appropriate grass in the paddocks, then we can catch horses back in the paddocks, and then we can catch the volunteers back in.

“Then, after all that, we can catch back to riding — which is what we are easiest at.”

Regulate attempts

So far, attempts to manipulate the weed at the RDA have been unsuccessful. 

“When we slashed it, it simply came back stronger,” Ms Harding-White said.

“Our first spray did not attain anything, then we acquired advice and had to plod to the stronger stuff.”

The property has undergone two heavy-responsibility sprays to manipulate the weed, but simply over a week later seedlings of blue billygoat weed resurfaced.

Weed on the ground in a nice paddock.

Blue billygoat weed popping up across the property after two chemical sprays.(

ABC Rural: Keely Johnson

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Ms Harding-White said their efforts to slay the tainted plant may be failing as simply over the fence on a neighbouring property it was thriving. 

“It be acquired savor little hairs all over it and they cruise off in the wind savor mud,” she said.

“If it be not addressed it be going to catch out of maintain an eye on”.

Over a wire fence is a paddock filled with bush with purple flowers.

Goal appropriate over the fence, the neighbour’s paddock is paunchy of the weed waiting to spread. (

ABC Rural: Keely Johnson

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The two chemical sprays on the property also worn out grass and native plants at the dwelling.

“We can have to plod lawful back to the starting and catch it re-seeded, re-aired, paddock development now lawful from the observe plod,” Ms Harding-White said.

No plan of attack from the council

Hunter Local Land Companies’ regional weeds coordinator Matt Kennedy said there was no plan for the management of Ageratum houstonianum across the Mid North Coast or Hunter areas.

“It [blue billygoat weed] is a widespread weed, smartly naturalised across the mod-coast area and other parts of Modern South Wales and Australia,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said the weed can affect the health of animals if ingested. 

“We all know that this weed contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids so can affect the liver if consumed by a herbivore,” he said.

“But according to the Local Land Companies District vet in the area, there hasn’t been any cases reported, or recorded of poisoning, from blue billygoat weed.

“It hasn’t been dropped at the attention of anyone within the Hunter weeds space that this species is readily identified to impact human health.

“If its impact to human health was so severe, it may perhaps not be purchased so readily.”

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‘Fright purple weed … pretty but deadly’: Invasive pest a challenge for horse riders