Year of Publication

2008

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. Karen J. McDowell

Abstract

Ingestion of endophyte infected (E+) fescue by pregnant mares can cause significant reproductive problems. Plateau® and Cimarron® herbicides suppress fescue while leaving desired forages unharmed. To determine if these herbicides are harmful to pregnant mares, they were allowed to graze pastures treated with Plateau®, Cimarron®, or vehicle carrier. Pregnancies were monitored via ultrasonography, blood chemistry, and hematology. Of the components measured only creatinine differed among treatments over time (P=0.0003) and that increase was only significant in one of four studies.

Two additional experiments were conducted to determine the effect of the herbicides on alkaloids within E+ fescue. A greenhouse experiment utilizing 52 pots of E+ fescue treated with Plateau®, Cimarron®, or nothing was inconclusive, as some alkaloids increased while others decreased. These results indicated that UV light may be required for normal plant death. In a field experiment 12 plots of mixed vegetation were sprayed with the same treatments, and herbicides decreased ergovaline, N-formylloline, and lysergic acid content (P=0.0460, P=0.0324, P=0.0093 respectively). In conclusion, the herbicides did not alter blood components outside physiological norms, but the alkaloids were still present in dying E+ fescue. It may be safest to remove late gestation mares until E+ fescue is completely decayed.

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