Latest News


Tuesday 19th Feb 2013


Due to a recent spate of Sorghum Grass poisoning, and the irreversible damage that it causes in horses, a reminder of the dangers is timely.

Toxicity is associated with grazing of foliage, not with consumption of the seeds. Some forage sorghums contain a warning label against grazing by horses.

Equine sorghum cystitis – ataxia syndrome is associated with grazing by horses.

Clinical Signs: Urinary incontinence and dribbling of urine are common in both mares and males. This predisposes the horse to cystitis in the prolonged presence of clinical signs and urine stasis. In mares, periodic opening and closing of the vulva occurs as well. Urinary irritation may contribute to the appearance that mares are in estrus. Horses develop posterior ataxia and incoordination after grazing for several days on rapidly growing Sorghum forages. Forced exercise may cause affected horses to stumble or drop the ground momentarily.


Remove from pasture

Treat cystitis with antibiotics

Recovery is unlikely if ataxia (staggers) is present (due to the irreversible nerve damage)

Sorghum grasses include all classes of forage Sudan grass, Johnson grass, hybrid forage sorghums, and grain sorghums. Sudan grass in the green growing stages can produce a horse urinary tract disease called cystitis syndrome or cystitis/ataxia (staggering). The disease is irreversible and believed to be associated with low levels of cyanide (prussic acid) in forage. Sorghum pasture can also cause a problem for pregnant mares in the first three months of pregnancy, presumably because of prussic acid content. Foals can be born with contracted tendons, or mares can abort.  Sweet-stemmed Sudan grasses and other sorghums that are relatively high in sugar also cause a laxative reaction in horses. Johnson grass, which is a sorghum, and other sorghums can be high in prussic acid (cyanide), which can occur in any green plant and especially stressed ones. Rapid growth after a drought, drought or cold-stressed plants, and plants at and soon after frost are especially hazardous. Prussic acid poisoning is not as severe a problem in horses as in cattle, but it can occur. Johnson grass can also have a high nitrate content.






Latest News & Events

Posted on 2014-12-15

• Farewell Angie & Dylan It is with great regret that I must announce that our friend & veterinary colleague, Angie Doudle (& her delightful son Dylan) will be leaving the practice at the end of the year to…  Read-on »