Common questions

What is Fescue toxicosis and what does it do to horses on pasture?

What is Fescue toxicosis and what does it do to horses on pasture?

This fungus grows and lives in contaminated fescue and when ingested by your horse, toxicity will develop. The toxin produced by the fungus inhibits some very important hormones from being produced properly in a pregnant mare. This leads to problems during birth and when the foal is trying to feed.

What is fescue foot disease?

Fescue toxicosis is caused by ingestion of tall fescue grass (Festuca arundinacea) contaminated with an endophyte (Neotyphodium coenophialum). During winter months, the toxins may cause peripheral vasoconstriction, leading in some cases to a gangrenous necrosis of the distal limbs and tail.

What are symptoms of fescue toxicity?

Some other symptoms of fescue toxicosis can include fever, tachypnea, or rapid breathing, rough hair coat, excessive salivation, lameness, poor reproductive success, and increased water intake. Not all tall fescue is endophyte-infected.

Which toxin is responsible for Fescue toxicosis in horse?

Fescue lameness, which resembles ergot poisoning, is believed to be caused by ergot alkaloids, especially ergovaline, produced by the endophyte fungus Neotyphodium coenophialum in tall fescue grass (Lolium arundinaceum, formerly Festuca arundinacea).

Why is fescue bad for horses?

Fescue infected with the endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum produces chemicals toxic to horses. Infected pasture and hay is toxic for horses to eat. The toxic chemicals in the stems and leaf sheaths tend to peak in late June and decline as the seeds develop.

What is the major cause of fescue toxicity?

What does fescue foot look like?

Telltale symptoms in the very early stages of fescue foot include: lameness in the rear legs, swelling below the hock, picking of rear hooves and licking or flipping them to stimulate blood flow, as well as a reluctance to get up and move (and when they do the cattle act like they are “walking-on-eggs”).

How do you prevent fescue feet?

Fescue Foot Prevention When seeding a new pasture or reseeding an old one, choose another type of grass or a fescue grass designed as “endophyte-free or friendly.” Those considered “friendly” contain fescue that contains a type of endophytes found to be harmless to livestock.

How is fescue toxicosis treated?

Long Method:

  1. Late summer or ealy fall, spray with herbicide.
  2. Plant winter annual: grass and legume or grass with nitrogen fertilizer.
  3. In spring, spray with fertilizer.
  4. Late summer or fall, sray with herbicide if necessary, and plant endophyte free seeds.
  5. Best chance of killing infected fescue.

Why is fescue grass bad for horses?

What causes fescue toxicosis?

Is fescue a good hay for horses?

Fescue has several characteristics which make it an excellent forage for a horse grazing management system. Fescue is a hardy grass that is easily established, tolerates close grazing, stands up to heavy horse traffic, survives drought conditions and is resistant to weeds, insects and diseases.

What are the symptoms of summer fescue toxicosis?

Summer fescue toxicosis is a warm season condition characterized by reduced feed intake and weight gains or milk production. The toxin(s) affects cattle, sheep, and horses during the summer when they are grazing or being fed tall fescue forage or seed contaminated with the endophytic fungus Neotyphodium coenophialum.

Can a horse get toxicosis from tall fescue?

Because horses are sensitive to the toxins in endophyte-infected tall fescue, even the lowest levels of endophyte can produce equine fescue toxicosis. Sheep appear to be less affected by the endophyte in tall fescue, possibly because they are inherently hardy.

How old does a Fescue seed have to be to be toxic?

However, sheep are prone to “fescue foot,” hyperthermia, poor wool production and reproductive problems as well as lowered feed intake and the resulting poor weight gains. The endophyte is present in the seed at the time of planting. If the seed is less than a year old, the endophyte is still alive.

What are the symptoms of fescue poisoning in dogs?

The severity of the condition varies from field to field and year to year. Signs other than reduced performance, which may appear within 1–2 wk after fescue feeding is started, include fever, tachypnea, rough coat, lower serum prolactin levels, and excessive salivation.

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