Fungus on tall fescue may cause losses in livestock

in Southeast Farm Press

Tall fescue is a popular grass used for grazing, hay and erosion control in the eastern United States, but one Clemson University expert believes this grass could be responsible for more than $1 billion per year in livestock production losses.

Tall fescue is a perennial bunch-type grass that grows rapidly during spring and fall. The majority of tall fescue plants contain a fungus that creates compounds which are beneficial to the plants, but toxic to livestock. The compounds created by the fungus are called “ergot alkaloids.” Susan Duckett, a professor of animal and veterinary sciences, and some of her students are conducting a study on the impact of these compounds on fetal development and postnatal growth of livestock that graze on tall fescue. Continue reading