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Fescue ID Question???

Equine-Reproduction.com Bulletin Board » Breeding Problem Mares - Volume 1 » Fescue ID Question??? « Previous Next »


Author Message
 

Jennifer Graef
Neonate
Username: Kakadu

Post Number: 1
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 10:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have heard a lot about fescue, but I haven't found any good pictures of it. Can anyone tell me if we have any fescue in our pasture? When you click on the link make sure you click on the thumbs for the large sizes. I can't tell what kind of grass we have other then I think Johnson grass. Is there anything I should worry about? Please help!
http://www.kakadudragons.com/jpix?gal=grass

(Message edited by kakadu on July 31, 2005)
 

CAB
Neonate
Username: Ksaqha

Post Number: 6
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 09:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's a picture of fescue. It's pretty common around the country, so there's a very good chance you have at least some in your pasture. Pregnant mares should be pulled off of it 60-90 days prior to their due date.
http://oregonstate.edu/%7Eleeta/Chapter03/images/Image_ch3.jpg
 

Dorthy Brown (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 136.181.195.17
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 10:59 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What if you keep the pasture mowed down very short so the grass never gets the tops on it? Is it still dangerous??
 

CAB
Neonate
Username: Ksaqha

Post Number: 7
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 11:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, that's what I was thinking until I started researching it. Apparently, the whole plant becomes infected with the endophyte. You could have your fescue tested, if you really want to know if it's infected.

I have noticed that all my horses will pass up grazing the fescue for the brome, clover, trefoil, and alfalfa I have my pastures seeded with. Nor, do they eat up the fescue hay I've thrown them in the past. However, that doesn't mean it won't get eaten. I'm still planning on taking my mare off pasture early next spring.
 

Jennifer Graef
Neonate
Username: Kakadu

Post Number: 2
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 01:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That is a great picture, thanks. Does all fescue look like that, or are there different varities of it?

I wondered about mowing too...
If there are no other grazing animals anywhere near my pasture (its actually 10 acres in the middle of a residential area) is there really a chance I don't have the endophyte?
 

CAB
Neonate
Username: Ksaqha

Post Number: 8
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Monday, August 01, 2005 - 01:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The endophyte doesn't come from animals. It is a fungus that infects the fescue plant, at the cell level. There is a newer strain of endophyte-free fescue, but something you would have to specifically seed. There are different varieties of fescue - tall and red are the two I'm most familiar with. Infected fescue can also make cattle unthrifty in the heat of summer, but it's a very common grazing grass due to its drought and traffic resistant hardiness.
 

Kent Cumberland
Neonate
Username: Knwc

Post Number: 2
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 11:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

From what I understand about the endophyte free variety is that it will become infected eventually. The endophyte actually helps the plant to be more hardy.
The current Hay&Forage grower magazine had a short article about cattle being fed fescue. Since it has been used for so long, people no longer recognize the problems that infected fescue creates. However, when a group fed fescue was penned next to a group that was fed something else, the differences were immediately noticeable.
Regarding horses, we lost a quarter mare during foaling a few years ago that the vet suspected was due to fescue toxicity. We have avoided feeding fesuce (both pasture and hay) ever since as a precaution.
 

Anonymous
 
Posted From: 4.246.220.160
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 01:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What if the whole pasture and all its weeds are completly dried up and have no water will I still take the chance of them eating it?
 

Jos
Board Administrator
Username: Jos

Post Number: 10287
Registered: 10-1999
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 01:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Fescue is a hardy grass with a reasonably good resistance to drought conditions, so there is a good chance that if there is any grass left in such a pasture it is fescue!
 

Anonymous
 
Posted From: 71.111.62.131
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 03:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You are correct Kent, the reason endophyte 'infected' grass is popular for lawn
grass, is because it is hardier and as Jos mentioned, more drought tolerant.
Turf varieties are predominantly the endophyte varieties.
Rye grass, turf varieties, usually harbor endophyte fungus too and can be
as toxic as fescue to breeding/pregnant animals in both pasture and hay forms.

I disagree with the comment that endophyte free fescue will "become infected
eventually".

Also important to remember, there is no way to tell if a grass or hay has
endophyte in it just by looking. It looks the same as non-endophyte varieties. And, the endophyte is in more than just the seed or seed head. It is also in the crown, where the stems branch out and other parts. Mowing or drying the grass does not reduce the chance of endopyte ingestion.

The animals who eat endophyte infested varieties of forage grass usually have an
unthrifty appearance after a while. Other effects frequently include agalactia
(no milk production), thickened placenta which may not break when foal is born
and weak foal. Definitely not recommended for breeding/pregnant animals. Some
feel that endophyte infected forage can be safely fed to pregnant animals IF it
is discontinued AT LEAST 3 months prior to due date. In my opinion, it is not
worth the risk nor the poor condition.

If you suspect the pasture or hay your broodmares eat may contain endophyte, the
forage can be tested for the toxins produced by the endophyte. Not difficult to
get, your local Agricultural Agent or an Agricultural College should have a
resource for this test. They should also be a great source of information on
this subject.

My preference is to avoid hay with Fescue or Rye grass unless the grower is
certain it is a forage variety and that turf varieties have never grown in the
field. Sometimes Fescue or Rye can be volunteer grass in a field and there's no
way to tell what variety it is.
 

Kent Cumberland
Neonate
Username: Knwc

Post Number: 4
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 - 04:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The statement about endophyte free varieties becoming infected came from my county extension agronomist. A study I found on the internet conflicts with this statment and indicates that it is only seed transmitted and once an endophyte free stand is established it should remain that way.

It is possible that the agronomistís statement could be based on how much fescue is actually out there and the ease that it could be volunteer seeded into a pasture. Many of the road dithces in this area seem to have been seeded with fescue.

It may also be based on the more intensive management required to establish an endophyte free stand. Essentially a new seeding must not be allowed to go to seed or risk volunteer endophyte infected plants from reestablishing.

Either way, thanks for the comment. It made me do some more research.

Kent



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