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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Recovery of Yearling Calves from Fescue Toxicosis

Authors
item Aiken, Glen
item Looper, Michael
item Tabler, Samuel
item Strickland, James

Submitted to: International Grasslands Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 30, 2004
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
Citation: Aiken, G.E., Looper, M.L., Tabler, S.F., Strickland, J.R. 2005. Recovery of yearling calves from fescue toxicosis. International Grasslands Congress. F.P. O'Mara et al (ed). P. 305. 305 Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Interpretive Summary: Tall fescue is widely grown as grazed forage in the transition zone of the eastern half of the U.S. The grass is highly adapted to the region, but cattle grazing tall fescue can be inflicted with a toxicosis that is caused ergot alkaloids produced by the Neotyphodium coenphialum endophyte that inhabits tall fescue. Transporting cattle with symptoms of fescue toxicosis can potentially have high mortality because they are subjected to the combined stresses of toxicosis and shipping, Removing calves from tall fescue pastures and placing them on diets void of endophyte-infected tall fescue may precondition calves for the feedlot and improve health status by reducing the severity of the fescue toxicosis. Yearling steers that were used in an experiment that evaluated stocking rate x implantation interactions on steer weight gain were placed on bermudagrass pasture that was free of endophyte-infected tall fescue. Rectal temperatures were monitored for a nine day period. Rectal temperatures averaged 104.7 OF over the first week and declined to 103.3 OF on day 8 and 102.8 OF on day 9. Results indicated that cattle exhibiting fescue toxicosis can be placed on a fescue-free diet for eight days to improve the health status of cattle prior to transport. This preconditioning program for fescue cattle could economically benefit cattlemen that are faced with high risks associated with transporting fescue cattle.

Technical Abstract: Tall fescue is widely grown as grazed forage in the transition zone of the eastern half of the U.S. The grass is highly adapted to the region, but cattle grazing tall fescue can be inflicted with a toxicosis that is caused ergot alkaloids produced by the Neotyphodium coenphialum endophyte that inhabits tall fescue. Transporting cattle with symptoms of fescue toxicosis can potentially have high mortality because they are subjected to the combined stresses of toxicosis and shipping, Removing calves from tall fescue pastures and placing them on diets void of endophyte-infected tall fescue may precondition calves for the feedlot and improve health status by reducing the severity of the fescue toxicosis. Yearling steers that were used in an experiment that evaluated stocking rate x implantation interactions on steer weight gain were placed on bermudagrass pasture that was free of endophyte-infected tall fescue. Rectal temperatures were monitored for a nine day period. Rectal temperatures averaged 104.7 OF over the first week and declined to 103.3 OF on day 8 and 102.8 OF on day 9. Results indicated that cattle exhibiting fescue toxicosis can be placed on a fescue-free diet for eight days to improve the health status of cattle prior to transport. This preconditioning program for fescue cattle could economically benefit cattlemen that are faced with high risks associated with transporting fescue cattle.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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