A New Way to Mitigate Fescue Toxicity
If you run cattle in the fescue belt, there’s a good chance fescue toxicosis is harming your herd. Researchers estimate 85 percent of the 40 million acres of tall fescue in the United States (mostly the variety Kentucky 31) contains endophyte-infected fungus that causes poor performance and health problems in our beef herds.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service scientists estimate almost 1 in 5 (17.2 percent) of all cows and heifers in the United States in 2009 were exposed to toxic endophyte-infected fescue. Endophyte-infected fescue limits grazing livestock performance on several fronts, including:
- Elevated body temperatures
- Reduced feed intake and weight gains
- Poorer conception rates and lower calving percentages
- Reduced milk production and lower weaning weights
- Other health issues, including lost hooves and docked tails
Researchers peg the annual financial hit to the cattle industry at $1 billion — $338 million of that comes from reduced weaning weights in the cow-calf sector.
Given today’s cattle economics, producing low-cost pounds of gain is more important than ever. It’s easy to understand why tall fescue management strategies warrant your attention. This video discusses seedhead suppression — a new approach developed by Dow AgroSciences to help mitigate fescue’s toxic impact. The seedhead suppression information under Related Downloads on this page provide additional detail.