The verdict is in. Grazing toxic fescue to the ground is dangerous to pastured livestock. Findings released by the University of Missouri indicate that the highest levels of toxic alkaloids are held in the bottom 2 inches of infected grass.
Sarah Kenyon, an MU extension agronomist based in West Plains, Mo., documented these findings in her Ph.D. dissertation.
Kentucky 31 fescue, the most-used grass in pastures, contains a toxic alkaloid that comes from an endophyte fungus inside the plant that grows between the plant’s cells.
Kenyon’s findings differ from previous research, which showed that plants were most toxic after seed set. This particular study found that the bottom 2 inches are as much or more dangerous than seed stage.
~ Adapted from Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower, December 2017. Read the complete article here.