Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Lexington, Kentucky » Forage-animal Production Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #205252

Title: USDA-Kentucky Report: Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) Investigations: Tall Fescue Alkaloids and Toxicosis

item Strickland, James
item Aiken, Glen
item Dinkins, Randy
item Klotz, James
item Kirch, Brett
item Smith, Lori
item Looper, Michael

Submitted to: SERA-IEG 8
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2006
Publication Date: 10/15/2006
Citation: Strickland, J.R., Aiken, G.E., Dinkins, R.D., Klotz, J.L., Kirch, B.H., Smith, L.L., Looper, M.L., Bush, L.P., Arrington, B.C., Smith, D.L., Shafer, W.D., Schardl, C., Hesse, U. 2006. Usda-Kentucky Report: Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) Investigations: Tall Fescue Alkaloids and Toxicosis. SERA-IEG 8. Annual Report: pgs. 97-111.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Forage-Animal Production Research Unit is involved in several research projects addressing the problem of Tall Fescue toxicosis. This is a toxic situation in grazing cattle and other animals as they consume tall fescue grass which is infected with a fungus. Cattle will grow poorly and in severe cases can actually have feet, ears, or tails lost due to gangrene due to reduce blood circulation caused by the toxins produced by the fungus. To address the problem, a series of studies have been developed to identify the toxins produced by the fungus in this grass. The latest technology is being utilized to identify and quantify the existing toxins in tall fescue with the development of new techniques on-going. Studies on specific toxins have been examined in grazing and feedlot cattle. The effects of specific toxins such as lysergic acid, ergotamine, and ergovaline have been tested on blood vessels in cattle and have shown to have very strong constrictive effects especially on the veins of the leg in cattle. Studies in cattle eating the seed of the tall fescue have shown that the onset of constriction of blood vessels occurs within a 4 to 28 hours and decreases heart rates in these cattle. Studies looking at the genetic effects of the fungus infected tall fescue plant have also been initiated. Since tall fescue is not a widely studied plant, the adaptation of technology used to study wheat and barley will be required. Studies to look at adapting this technology have made great strides in looking at the genetic make up of tall fescue, but further fine tuning of the technology is on going to verify initial results.