Our Life at Denbury Farm Blog 17th August 2017

August 17, 2017 in new_blog by MrFarmer

Our nature being it mammals, insects or plants in one way or the other is gradually but surely being killed off by us humans through greed, misinformation and wrong doing.

The plant ragwort is one, it having a bad reputation as being a killer of horses and cattle is putting the Cinnabar Moth at risk. The Ragwort pretty little daisy lookalikes flowers are an attraction to butterflies, moths and other insects that our world would be a lesser place without them.

Ragwort can be found anywhere. And we get our fair share at Denbury. about 10 years ago in a small paddock of a little over an acre that had lain fallow without us ever seeing any sign of ragwort, suddenly looked as if we were growing it as a crop. There was so much that we needed to mow the paddock and round bale it. We made three large round bales.  Eating a lot of ragwort would cause horses and cattle to be ill. They would need to eat a very large amount to cause any great damage and being that it has a very bitter taste, most horses and cattle avoid eating it. I have seen horses in bare fields with a lot of untouched ragwort. Mixed in with hay it would be eaten, but most farmers and farm contractors when making hay would go around growing ragwort so that it would not get into the hay.  Again they would need to eat a large amount of the hay to cause them a problem.

The pretty ragwort flower attracts a lot of butterflies, moths and insects. The Cinnabar Moth lays its eggs on ragwort plants, their caterpillars eating the poisonous leaves and flowers. The poison and fowl taste stays in their yellow and black banded body’s and stays when they turn into moths, it stops any bird or predators from eating them. 

Trouble is that with peoples misguided perception of ragwort the plant is steadily being killed off. If it carries on the beautiful Cinnabar Moth will disappear. The Cinnabar Moth has died off at this time of the year, coming again in the spring, so Mrs Farmer has done a quick sketch of one.