Feeding Cosmos


Hi. I would just like to know how good cosmos is for horses, that is the pink and white flowers that eventually turns into blackjacks.
I red a book of what horses jused to live on in the older days when there were no extra feeding exept grass and cosmos and apparantly that was the best food for them and it kept them fat and healty.
Can i feed my horses cosmos? And does it have side effects or something? How many nutriants does it have? I will still feed theyre normal food but with extra cosmos.


Interesting question, Cathy. The types of plants you are referring to are Cosmos (Bidens Formosa) which bears the pink or white flowers that we see so commonly in the country, and the Blackjack (Bidens pilosa), which is in fact in the same family but not the same plant. I had a little help on the facts here, so thanks to PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa) for some of the helpful information. I have a superb book on toxic plants which, sadly, is snugly tucked away in a box in the garage! The Blackjack is found throughout the world, and is considered a weed in most parts. It has been used by human and animal alike over the centuries and is thought to contain many properties. In sub-Saharan Africa, the fresh or dried tender shoots and young leaves are used as a leaf vegetable especially in times of food scarcity. It is an ingredient of sauces accompanying the staple food. The leaves are, fresh or after parboiling, dried in the sun and stored as powder for the dry season. In Uganda, the leaves are boiled in sour milk. Old leaves are not suitable for consumption because they have a bitter astringent taste.
Bidens pilosa (Blackjack) is used as a medicinal plant in many regions of Africa, Asia and tropical America. Roots, leaves and seed have been reported to possess antibacterial, antidysenteric, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimalarial, diuretic, hepato-protective and hypotensive activities. In Uganda, five different medicinal uses are known: the sap from crushed leaves is used to speed up clotting of blood in fresh wounds; a leaf decoction is used for treating headache; sap from the plant is put in the ear to treat ear infection; a decoction of leaf powder is used to treat kidney problems; and a herbal tea made from the plant decreases flatulence. Extracts of Bidens pilosa are used in southern Africa to cure malaria. The Manyika people in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe retain the first water used for cooking Bidens pilosa foliage for later use as a medicinal drink to cure stomach and mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, headaches and hangover. The Zulu in South Africa use a suspension of powdered leaves as an enema for abdominal trouble, whereas in Congo a concoction made from the whole plant is taken as a poison antidote, or to ease child delivery and to relieve the pain from hernia. In South Africa, strong decoctions of the leaf taken in large doses have been reported to be helpful in treating arthritis. In Côte d’Ivoire, the plant is used for treating jaundice and dysentery. The plant sap is applied to burns in Tanzania. In Nigeria, the powder or ash from the seed is used as a local anaesthetic and rubbed into cuts. The Giriama tribe from the coastal areas of Kenya use a leaf extract to treat swollen spleens in children. This tribe also uses a mixture of the dried and ground leaves of Bidens pilosa, soap and hot pepper as an insecticide for the control of leaf miners and other insects.
In Nanyuki, Kenya, Bidens pilosa is collected for the extraction of natural dyes. Among the Efe of the DR Congo the root is washed and dried, then used as a painting brush. Livestock browses on the plants and in South Africa Bidens pilosa has been used as a fodder for pigs. However, dairy cattle are discouraged from browsing on it because the aromatic oil present in the plant has an objectionable smell that can taint milk. Chicken feed on the seed. In Uganda and in Mexico, the leaves are used as an invigorating or stimulant substitute for tea; while in the Philippines the flowers are used in the preparation of a kind of wine. The flowers are a good source of nectar for honeybees. The composition of raw Bidens pilosa leaves per 100 g edible portion is: water 85 g, energy 180 kJ (43 kcal), protein 3.8 g, fat 0.5 g, carbohydrate 8.4 g, fibre 3.9 g, β-carotene 1800 μg (Leung, W.-T.W., Busson, F. & Jardin, C., 1968). The traditional medicinal applications in China of Cosmos and Bidens species have been confirmed by the fact that Cosmos and Bidens extracts are shown to inhibit bacteria, fungi, and viruses and to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory animal experiments with induced gastric ulcer, liver inflammation, or arthritis-type swelling. The Yellow Cosmos plant is widely used as a source of yellow dye. In short, I see no evidence of the plants being toxic to your horses, and if you want to feed them in addition to the normal diet as a source of fresh food and as a treat, I don’t see why not. Although they seem to posess some beneficial qualities, they are not a major source of nutrition on their own. I would start with small quantities though, to give the digestive tract time to adapt to it and would never feed it in very large quantities (ie, don’t let it become a major portion of the daily feed). If out in a typical veld situation, your horse may very well be eating the cosmos anyway, and if he does not want to eat it, take it as a sign that his body does not want it. Horses generally tend to be good at choosing plants that are not toxic and that taste good to them out in the wild. Ideally, horses in the wild do well on natural grasses and veld and do not need any hard feed or supplementation, however always remember that a horse in the wild does not have to perform physically or mentally, be in quite as good condition, nor is the caloric requirement of a wild horse as high as that of his sporty counterpart working every day! Horses in the wild also do not generally live as long as those kept in domestication! If you run this by your vet, I am also sure he would be able to advise you and check that you are not causing harm.

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