Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO IMPROVING PERFORMANCE OF BEEF CATTLE GRAZING PASTURES IN WHICH ENDOPHYTE-INFECTED FORAGES DOMINATE

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Does toxic fescue decrease bull fertility?

Authors
item Looper, Michael
item Rorie, Rick -
item Rosenkrans, Charles -

Submitted to: Cattleman's Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: March 12, 2009
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Knowledge of the detrimental effects of toxic tall fescue on bull reproductive performance is minimal. In natural breeding, reduced bull performance could decrease the pregnancy rate of the cowherd. Scientists from ARS in Booneville, AR, and the University of Arkansas investigated the influence of fescue type on sperm characteristics in bulls. Bulls grazed either toxic or nontoxic fescue, and semen and scrotal circumference were measured monthly. Semen from bulls grazing toxic fescue had reduced motility and morphology compared with bulls grazing nontoxic fescue pastures. Beef producers should take into consideration the cow-to-bull ratio when bulls are grazing toxic fescue especially during the hotter months of the summer. Over-use of a bull maintained on toxic fescue could exacerbate the reduced fertility, resulting in more cows being open at the end of the breeding season. Use of novel fescue varieties or other non-toxic supplementation strategies before and during the breeding season will alleviate the detrimental effects of toxic fescue on bull performance. This information is important to livestock producers and extension personnel.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page