Copper Sulfate Use by Farriers Raises Safety Concerns

The common thrush treatment can be dangerous to farriers, horses and the environment


Pictured Above: A gust of wind blew copper sulfate powder into British farrier Samuel David Rice’s right eye, despite the farrier wearing safety glasses. His eye remained swollen shut more than an hour.

When providing hoof care on a regular schedule, many farriers see horses every 6 to 8 weeks and the nature of the footcare business is to provide a solution that works best for a horse within that interval. Yet, bacterial- and fungal-induced diseases such as thrush often thwart those best intentions.

A remedy traditionally has been a mixture of copper sulfate and water to form a paste, packing the compound into the infected area of the hoof. The solution, according to those who utilize the compound, has worked in their practices and provided a cost-effective treatment to the thrush cases they see regularly. Conversely, other professionals deem the practice unsafe for both horse and farrier, and also cite environmental concerns.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Educating horse owners about keeping hooves clean in between trims can help reduce the recurrence of thrush and reduce copper sulfate use.
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when handling copper sulfate to avoid potential irritation.
  • Copper sulfate binds to proteins and enters different organs when inhaled or eaten. It takes between 13 and 33 days for only half of a large dose to be eliminated from the body.

Health Implications

Using a cheap and powerful remedy can be appealing for farriers; however, it is important to remember the negative implications the fungicide can impose, in…

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Laura handke

Laura Handke

Laura Handke is a Kansas-based freelance writer who is a passionate advocate of modern agricultural prac­tices.

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