UT Veterinarians Discuss Fescue Grass Toxicity

UT Veterinarians Discuss Fescue Grass Toxicity


Hello, I’m dr. David Anderson with the veterinary medical center for large animals here at the University of, Tennessee And I’m visiting today with dr. Carla Sommardahl. Dr. Sommardahl is board-certified in veterinary internal medicine is a specialist in diseases at the university And we’re in the spring period here and something that has come up as a topic of conversation recently is Fescue grass toxicity and so we wanted to visit a little bit about that and you know dr. Summer doll Toxicity is not the word that we usually like to use in the same sense with grass so how can grass be toxic yes well fescue grass gets infected with the fungus and it’s very commonly infected in this part of the United States the southeast we grow a lot of fescue grass here and most of it does Get this fungus and the fungus produces a toxin That can be harmful mostly to mares that you’re breeding They’re in foal and then to young horses So the word that people would see a lot of people refer to this as endophyte-infected fescue So it’s an endophyte-infected grass Which is very very common most fescue pastures are infected with it is it possible to have a non endophyte-infected pasture you can buy now endophyte-infected seed and it will grow but Unfortunately, if you plant it in this part of the country it becomes infected quite Easily or even the certified seed may not become infected But the infected grass will sometimes overrun the uninfected grass Because the seed blows Birds carried the seed and so your your pasture can become infected again, so it may last a season But it’s not gonna last forever because the infected grass is actually hardier, it survives drought better The endophyte is beneficial to the grass so that’s why it grows so well So one of the reasons fescue is so common is because it is a very Hardy grass it survives the hot dry summers really well So it sounds like it’s a difficult problem to prevent from the standpoint of contamination Pasture. what medical problem does it actually cause for horses? What’s the problem with this grass? The mares that are pregnant Ingest the grass that’s infected the toxin in the grass will cause several problems during pregnancy The main problem we see are mares that don’t produce enough milk after they’re Trying to lactate after the foal is born and Also, the colostrum will not be produced and the colostrum is very important to the foal during the first Hours of life to ingest that colostrum, and then the mayor doesn’t have any milk for the baby Foal after even as the baby develops, so it’s obviously a problem there other things that it can cause is problems during the pregnancy itself it can cause the placenta that is surrounding the Foal and nourishing it to be thickened and so the foal doesn’t get enough nourishment, and we see problems during Babies that are born premature looking premature even though they’re term babies or have weak sick foals that are born because of that. it can cause prolonged pregnancies where the Pregnancy is longer than it should be and that causes a problem when the foal tries to deliver It’s oftentimes big and the mare may have Problems delivering that foal. so that’s a lot to deal with prolonged gestations, Difficulty being born. when you’re born mom not having enough milk and colostrum. is There anything that that we can do while the mare is pregnant to try to prevent this from happening even though We have fescue grass on the farm. Yes. There’s some guidelines that you can do that will help The best thing to do is take the mare off that the fescue grass Totally so take them off any pasture that has fescue in it In during the winter months the grass. You know really isn’t growing It’s not as much of a problem But you need to make sure you’re feeding them and non-fescue hay and so you have to be really careful with Mixed grass hays because they may have fescue grass in them being a mixed grass You need to make sure that you check the hay you can have it tested For fescue are looked at to see if there’s any fescue But we recommend a different mix like orchard grass Timothy or even an alfalfa grass mix to replace any Hay that might have fescue and then limit their exposure to the grass any time of the year. and what’s the minimum period of time That the mayor needs to be off of fescue grass to give that foal and milk production the best chance? at least 60 days prior to foaling, so you know Two months prior to foaling if you can take them off sooner. the sooner the better is what I say because we still see problems even though mares were taken off 60 days you know before because we think it’s dose-dependent and So sooner you can take them off the better during the pregnancy So if we’ve if we’ve had a mare on fescue and foal’s born But she has hypogalactia or decreased milk production or agalactia, no milk production Is there something we can do -? Besides supplementing the foal to stimulate that mare to come into milk yes There are some drugs that are used that help block the toxin But it takes several days so those drugs to start working so you’re still dealing with a fold that needs to be fed And we need to make sure we give them something to replace the lack of colostrum so a lot of times those foals will need plasma, or if you know ahead of time though you can you know keep in contact with your veterinarian and be prepared for that foal when it comes you can also give the mare the drug that stimulates and blocks the toxin a week prior to foaling if you know the Date and that will also help with the milk production. and that drug is domperidone So not the champagne right, but you know domperidone to help stimulate milk production And so is there anything else we should know about fescue grass toxicity There has been a few studies that have shown when you feed it to young growing horses that it can reduce their growth if they’re Not supplemented with grain, so it’s not a great hay for young growing horses either. If it has the endophyte-infected infected Excellent so you know we’re here to help with problems like this and so work with your veterinarian We would love to be a resource for you to help you work through these different challenges and so at the University of Tennessee we’re about premium health care and premium service and So let us know what we can do to assist you and your breeding operation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *