Fescue toxicity

Cattle problems.
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Ky hills
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Fescue toxicity

Postby Ky hills » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:55 pm

Noticed another post about cows with blocked nasal passages. We have had several cows over the years that breathe hard and some that have bloody noses when it gets hot in the summer. Used to think it was probably due to a respitory illness at some point in their life and that the fescue endophyte stuff was just a legend of sorts, but lately am believing it. Have a cow that breathes heavy every and bleeds from her nose every time it gets hot and she was raised here and had no visible signs of sickness as a calf. We also have a 2 yr old bull that has bouts of lameness and currently he is really struggling to walk he is swollen at and above his hooves he also is breathing heavy but eating ok I am wondering if it could be affecting him
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby kenny thomas » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:38 pm

It for sure can be the fescue. Clipping the seedheads off will help.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby kenny thomas » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:48 pm

Lots of people here have fenced the streams, ponds, and installed water systems. This is great for the grass but now I feel the cows that are most sensitive to the fescue are showing up more. The reason I think is that before these cattle spent a lot of time in the creeks or ponds and it kept their temp lower. Now because thgey can't do that it shows up more.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby Ky hills » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:53 pm

kenny thomas wrote:It for sure can be the fescue. Clipping the seedheads off will help.


Thanks, working on that now. I have also noticed a 2 or 3 heifers limping around as well. Thought at first it was caused by the weight of the bull, and I reckon it could be, but it worsened quickly for them at about the same time as the other bull that is lame only he is much worse off than they are.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby kenny thomas » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:56 pm

It takes years but adding clovers and trying to delute the fescue will help. If continuous grazing the pick the better grasses and clover first and it allows the fescue to become even stronger. Rotational grazing allows some of the other grasses to compete.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby callmefence » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:51 am

;-) I would spray that junk and plant Johnson grass....... ;-)
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby Ebenezer » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:03 am

Visual signs to make proper culling decisions. There are cattle, black cattle, that are resistant to the endohphyte. Over grazing is a problem as the endophyte is also concentrated in the lower 2" of forage from a report from MO. Look at the amount of copper in your mineral, the source of the copper, zinc and selenium and, as mentioned, search dilution with legumes, forbes, orchardgrass, ...
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby Ky hills » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:23 pm

Ebenezer wrote:Visual signs to make proper culling decisions. There are cattle, black cattle, that are resistant to the endohphyte. Over grazing is a problem as the endophyte is also concentrated in the lower 2" of forage from a report from MO. Look at the amount of copper in your mineral, the source of the copper, zinc and selenium and, as mentioned, search dilution with legumes, forbes, orchardgrass, ...


I'm sure there are some cattle resistant to it, as not all seem to be affected. I have seen certain farms that advertise their cattle as being raised on fescue, ironically the descendants ( daughters and granddaughters, and a grandson) that are the most visibly affected. I did read an article on a study by UK in which they concluded that brahman influenced cattle were less effected. I don't know how to post the pdf or link to it or I would.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby skyhightree1 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:46 pm

Never had any issues with my cows as the fields are loaded with clover maybe thats why but there cut off from ponds and such because of the program i went into that helped get waterers and wells and such.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby MtnCows93 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:44 pm

I agree you could be having problems from fescue but i hope this thread doesnt turn into one of those "kill your pasture and plant something else" threads lol dont drink the NRCS cool aid
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby kenny thomas » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:23 pm

MtnCows93 wrote:I agree you could be having problems from fescue but i hope this thread doesnt turn into one of those "kill your pasture and plant something else" threads lol dont drink the NRCS cool aid

I have my pasture divided and also use temporary fence as needed for grazing. 3 waterers and 2 ponds. Not a dime from NRCS until this spring. I'm adding a well, 3 tire troughs, fencing the cattle out of the woods, dividing each current pasture once. Reseeding, fertilize and lime. Looks like NRCS will pay about 50%. I might as well use it as give it to the meth heads in town that don't work. Yes, food stamps is part of the farm bill.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby skyhightree1 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:57 pm

no fescue for me = starving cows
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby Ky hills » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:30 am

Skyhightree you are right, without fescue our cows would be starving.

Mtncows93, I have heard over the years a lot of folks talk bad about fescue and I always just took it with a grain of salt. Now I am starting to add up some isolated instances I have seen with my cattle and they seem to be increasing, to the point that I am starting to think there is something to it. I agree with you and I certainly would never try to kill it off here or advocate for anyone else in this area to do that. I don't know of any other grass or forage that can thrive under harsh conditions, swings of weather cold and droughts, and over grazing and still come back strong as soon as it can like fescue does. We try to sow red clover and orchard grass every few years to improve the pastures, but on these hills if it wasn't for fescue there would likely be a lot bare spots and or weeds. We have some naturally occurring white clover and bluegrass which I have always thought should dilute the effects.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby greybeard » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:48 am

skyhightree1 wrote:no fescue for me = starving cows


fescue for me=all my neighbors meeting under the windmill with torches and pitchforks and my place burned to the ground.
Fescue is still a dirty word around here, tho I see more and more fescue seed for sale ...I presume for lawns.
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Re: Fescue toxicity

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:35 am

gb - there are lots of endophyte free Fescue now - I believe!!
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