Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. Karen J. McDowell


Kentucky 31 tall fescue (KY31) infected with the common toxic endophyte strains of Epichloё coenophiala produces toxic alkaloids that improve plant vigor, but cause numerous adverse effects in grazing animals. Researchers developed a variety of KY31 containing an alternative strain of E. coenophiala, termed novel endophyte (NE). Adverse health effects in mares have not been evaluated.

Experiments in this thesis tested the hypothesis that the NE pasture does not cause adverse effects typically associated with KY31. Specific aims were to: 1) compare forage ergovaline concentrations between KY31 vs NE pastures; 2) evaluate palmar artery diameters in mares grazing KY31, NE, or orchardgrass-bluegrass (OGBG) pastures; 3) determine mare serum prolactin, estradiol, and progesterone concentrations associated with ingesting each pasture type over time; and 4) measure foaling outcomes, including percentage of live foals, foal birth weights, and foal growth rates. In 2015, six nonpregnant mares grazed KY31, six pregnant mares grazed NE and six pregnant mares grazed OGBG pastures. In 2016, eighteen mares were used; six mares grazed each pasture type.

Study results showed that ergovaline did not appear to be produced by NE. Novel endophyte pasture did not have negative effects on palmar artery diameter, reproductive hormones, or foaling outcomes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)