Fescue toxicosis can lead to summer slump

By Aimee Nielson, University of Kentucky

Tall fescue is a popular grass for Kentucky pastures for many reasons—it is hardy and tolerates drought, has a root system that aids in controlling erosion and can stand up to heavy grazing. Farmers can even stockpile it for winter grazing. However, an endophyte fungus that commonly infects the plant can affect livestock. Summertime tends to be peak time for fungus-related problems.

“Fescue toxicosis is the general term used for the clinical diseases that can affect cattle consuming endophyte-infected tall fescue,” said Michelle Arnold, ruminant extension veterinarian for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Something important for Kentucky producers to watch for is a syndrome frequently referred to as ‘summer slump.’ Affected cattle appear hot with labored respiration (open mouth and/or rapid breathing) and excessive salivation. They avoid grazing during the day and seek shade or mud wallows to find relief from heat.” Continue reading