When stinging nettles have grown along my fences I’ve always pulled them up every year and put them on the compost heap to keep my paddocks looking tidy.
That was until I joined a group of Herb enthusiasts on a “Wild Herb Foraging Walk ” in my village. It was run by the owner of our local apothecary who described the benefits of all the wild herbs we found along the hedgerows and in the meadows we walked through.
She got to the area that was abundant with stinging nettles, and told of the amazing properties that these herbs have, and how we ignore them mainly because they sting. She told a story about how in olden days horse dealers would dry stinging nettles and feed their horses up on them before taking them to market, purely to improve their condition. Interesting I thought…
I researched this and was amazed at what I found. Now I look at stinging nettles in a completely different way. When I see stinging nettles growing I’m really happy to pull them up, but I leave them in the paddocks to dry naturally. Once dry, my horses eat all of them so getting the herbal benefits as well as saving me the job of taking them to the compost heap by the barrow load!
Stinging Nettles are valuable mineral herbs, they possess large amounts of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C and K. They are diuretic and blood cleansing which rids uric acid from the body. This is how they reduce painful inflammation. In humans they are well known for reducing painful inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, the vitamin K gives nettles anti-hemorrhagic qualities.
For year round feeding you can dry the nettles and keep them in an airtight container, chop them up and add to your horses feed.