Start Date

13-1-2012 11:00 AM

Description

Eighty years have passed since Dr. F.N. Fergus collected seed of tall fescue from that hillside at the Suiter Farm in Menifee County that led to the commercial release of the cultivar ‘Kentucky 31’. Fescue provided an opportunity to replace the briar and weed patches that dominated the rocky hillsides of Kentucky with productive forage. Plantings of tall fescue were numerous in the state during the 1940s and 1950s, and its hardiness and adaptability resulted in the grass spreading over much of the middle and upper southeastern USA, eventually covering a region we now call the “fescue belt”. It did not take long before cattle producers complained of severe lameness and sloughing of hoofs, tails, and ear tips during cold weather, and poor weight gain and thriftiness during warm weather conditions. Reductions in calving rates and milk production were also of concern. Horse producers also identified serious issues with grazing pregnant mares (prolonged gestation, retained placentas, stillborns, and poor milk production) on Kentucky 31 tall fescue. Causes of the poor performance of cattle were not determined until researchers at the University of Georgia and Auburn University discovered in the early 1970’s that tall fescue was host to a fungal endophyte. Ergot alkaloids produced by the endophyte were soon identified as the causal factors of the symptoms of fescue toxicosis.

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Jan 13th, 11:00 AM

What Fescue Toxicosis Is Really Doing Inside Your Animals

Eighty years have passed since Dr. F.N. Fergus collected seed of tall fescue from that hillside at the Suiter Farm in Menifee County that led to the commercial release of the cultivar ‘Kentucky 31’. Fescue provided an opportunity to replace the briar and weed patches that dominated the rocky hillsides of Kentucky with productive forage. Plantings of tall fescue were numerous in the state during the 1940s and 1950s, and its hardiness and adaptability resulted in the grass spreading over much of the middle and upper southeastern USA, eventually covering a region we now call the “fescue belt”. It did not take long before cattle producers complained of severe lameness and sloughing of hoofs, tails, and ear tips during cold weather, and poor weight gain and thriftiness during warm weather conditions. Reductions in calving rates and milk production were also of concern. Horse producers also identified serious issues with grazing pregnant mares (prolonged gestation, retained placentas, stillborns, and poor milk production) on Kentucky 31 tall fescue. Causes of the poor performance of cattle were not determined until researchers at the University of Georgia and Auburn University discovered in the early 1970’s that tall fescue was host to a fungal endophyte. Ergot alkaloids produced by the endophyte were soon identified as the causal factors of the symptoms of fescue toxicosis.