New Plant May Help Thwart Grass Tetany
April 30, 1999
A new tall fescue grass called
HiMag may help protect cattle, sheep, goats and deer from an
affliction known as grass tetany. When ruminants--that is, animals with four
stomachs--have too little magnesium in their blood, grass tetany can result.
Also known as hypomagnesemia, grass tetany often is fatal. It causes an
estimated $50 to $150 million in livestock production losses each year in the
American pastureland has more tall fescue than any other forage grass. And
because the new variety is unusually high in magnesium, it should help protect
vulnerable animals from magnesium deficiencies. Plans call for HiMag seed to be
made available to plant breeders this year, according to ARS soil scientist
Henry F. Mayland at the ARS Northwest
Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory at Kimberly, Idaho.
Mayland developed HiMag tall fescue with
Shewmaker--formerly with ARS and now with the
University of Idaho--and
David A. Sleper and colleagues at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
The idea of breeding a high-magnesium forage grass to combat grass tetany
isn't new. But the ARS scientists and their university co-researchers are the
first to accomplish that with tall fescue. They recommend HiMag for rain-fed
pastures in eastern, southeastern and Pacific Northwestern States and British
Columbia. So far, it has been tested in Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, New
York, Texas, Utah and Virginia as well as in Canada.
An article in the April issue of the ARS monthly journal, Agricultural Research, tells
more. View it on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Henry F. Mayland, ARS
Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory, Kimberly, Idaho, phone
(208) 423-6562, fax (208) 423-6555,