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Fescue Toxicosis

Our main service provides a genetic test for cattle exposed to fescue toxicosis. Fescue toxicosis is the most devastating forage-livestock syndrome facing American cattlemen in the eastern US. It reduces weight gain, calving rate, and milk production. Fescue toxicosis is currently costing the US livestock industry $1.8 billion annually.

Though no cattle are completely resistant to fescue toxicosis, some animals are highly susceptible while others have improved tolerance. Our T-Snip™ test can identify those animals that are highly susceptible to fescue toxicosis and those with improved tolerance.

Fescue Toxicosis in Cattle

Using cattle identified with the T-Snip™ test, we measured how they performed when fed toxic tall fescue. In 3 different experiments, tolerant cattle had 8% higher intake and 41% higher gain. Also, the calves from tolerant cows weaned 55 lbs heavier.

Fescue Toxicosis Susceptibility Table
*Measured on stock heifers
**205-day adjusted weight of steers and heifers

The test requires a hair sample to be collected and fastened to special cards (order cards here). Samples are sent to the lab. Each sample is accompanied with a form that includes client name, contact info, and animal ID. Results are typically returned within 4 weeks.

Below is a list of our published works in the field of fescue toxicosis.
  • Campbell, B.T., C.J. Kojima, T.A. Cooper, B.C. Bastin, L. Wojakiewicz, R.L. Kallenbach, F.N. Schrick and J.C. Waller. 2014. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the dopamine receptor D2 gene may be informative for resistance to fescue toxicosis in Angus-based cattle. Animal Biotech. 25:1-12.
  • Roberts, C.A., D.K. Davis, M.L. Looper, R.L. Kallenbach, G.E. Rottinghaus, and N.S. Hill. 2014. Ergovaline and total ergot alkaloid concentrations in high- and low-moisture tall fescue silage. Crop Sci. 54:1887-1892.
  • Dierking, R.M., C.A. Young, and R.L. Kallenbach. 2012. Mediterranean and continental tall fescue: I. Effects of endophyte status on leaf extension, proline, mono- and disaccharides, fructan, and freezing survivability. Crop Sci. 52:451-459.
  • Kallenbach, R.L., R.J. Crawford, Jr., M.D. Massie, M.S. Kerley, and N.J. Bailey. 2012. Integrating bermudagrass into tall fescue-based pasture systems for stocker cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 90:387-394.
  • Roberts, C.A., R.L. Kallenbach, G.E. Rottinghaus, and N.S. Hill. 2011. Ergovaline and ergot alkaloid concentrations change in conserved tall fescue forage. Online. Forage and Grazingl. doi:10.1094/FG-2011-1013-01-RS.
  • Rogers, W.M., C.A. Roberts, J.G. Andrae, D.K. Davis, G.E. Rottinghaus, N.S. Hill, R.L. Kallenbach, and D.E. Spiers. 2011. Seasonal fluctuation of ergovaline and total ergot alkaloid concentrations in tall fescue regrowth. Crop Sci. 51:1-6.
  • Kallenbach, R.L., E.B. Venable, M.S. Kerley, and N.J. Bailey. 2010. Stockpiled tall fescue and livestock performance in an early stage Midwest silvopasture system. Agroforest. Syst. 80:379–384.
  • Bailey, N.J. and R.L. Kallenbach. 2010. Comparison of three tall fescue-based stocker systems. J. Anim. Sci. 88:1880–1890.
  • Rogers, W.M., C.A. Roberts, R.L. Kallenbach, G.E. Rottinghaus, N.S. Hill, W.E. McClain, and D.G. Blevins. 2010. Poultry litter and its chemical equivalent can affect ergot alkaloid concentrations in tall fescue. Forage and Grazingl. Online. doi:10.1094/FG-2010-1203-01-RS.
  • Looper, M.L, R.W. Rorie, C.N. Person, T.D. Lester, D.M. Hallford, G.E. Aiken, C.A. Roberts, G.E. Rottinghaus, and C.F. Rosenkrans, Jr. 2009. Influence of toxic endophyte-infected fescue on sperm characteristics and endocrine factors of yearling Brahman-influenced bulls. J. Anim. Sci. 87:1184-1191.
  • Roberts, C.A., G. Lacefield, D. Ball, and G. Bates. 2009. Managing tall fescue to optimize grazing in the northern hemisphere. p. 85-99. In H. Fribourg et al. (eds.) Tall fescue for the 21st century. ASA, Madison, WI.
  • Meyer, A.M., M.S. Kerley, R.L. Kallenbach, and T.L. Perkins. 2009. Comparison of grazing stockpiled tall fescue versus feeding hay with or without supplementation for gestating and lactating beef cows during winter. Profess. Anim. Sci. 25:449-458.
  • Roberts, C.A., R.L. Kallenbach, N.S Hill, G.E. Rottinghaus, and T. J. Evans. 2009. Ergot alkaloid concentrations in tall fescue hay during production and storage. Crop Sci. 49:1496-1502.
  • Larson, B.T., M.D. Samford, J.T. Turner, M.S. Kerley and J. A. Paterson. 1996. Effects of endophyte-infected tall fescue, environmental temperature, and prazosin injection on the rat. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 114C:39.
  • Curtis, L.E., R.L. Kallenbach, and C.A. Roberts. 2008. Allocating forage to fall-calving cow-calf pairs strip-grazing stockpiled tall fescue. J. Anim. Sci. 86:780-789.
  • Curtis, L.E., and R.L. Kallenbach. 2007. Endophyte infection level of tall fescue stockpiled for winter grazing does not alter the gain of calves nursing lactating beef cows. J. Anim. Sci. 85:2346-2353.
  • Kallenbach, R.L., C.A. Roberts, T.R. Lock, T.R., D.H. Keisler, M.R. Ellersieck, and G.E. Rottinghaus. 2006. Performance of steers fed ammoniated straw from tall fescue seed fields. Online. Forage and Grazinglands doi:10.1094/FG-2006-0113-01-RS.
  • Bush, L.P., C.A. Roberts, and C. Schultz. 2007. Plant chemistry and antiquality compoents in forage. p. 509-529. In RF Barnes, et al. (eds.) Forages: the Science of Grassland Agriculture. 6th ed. Iowa State Press, Ames, IA.
  • Roberts, C.A., C.P. West, and D.A. Spiers (eds.) 2005. Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses. 392 p. Blackwell Publishing Professional, Ames, IA.
  • Roberts, C.A., and J.A. Andrae. 2005. Public education in tall fescue toxicosis. p. 359-377. In C.A. Roberts, et al. (eds.) Neotyphodium in Cool-Season Grasses. Blackwell Publishing Professional, Ames, IA.
  • Roberts, C.A., and J.A. Andrae. 2004. Tall fescue toxicosis and management. Online. Crop Managm. doi. 10:1094/CM-2004-0427-01-MG.
  • Kallenbach, R.L., G.J. Bishop-Hurley, M.D. Massie, G.E. Rottinghaus, and C.P. West. 2003. Herbage mass, nutritive value, and ergovaline concentration of stockpiled tall fescue. Crop Sci. 43:1001-1005.
  • Samford-Grigsby, M.D., B.T. Larson, J.C. Forcherio, D.M. Lucas, J.A. Paterson and M.S. Kerley. 1997. Injection of Holstein steers with a dopamine antagonist to relieve symptoms of fescue toxicosis. J. Anim. Sci. 75:1026.
  • Forcherio, J.C., G.E. Catlett, J.A. Paterson, M.S. Kerley and M.R. Ellersieck. 1995. Supplemental protein and energy for beef cows consuming endophyte-infected tall fescue. J. Anim. Sci. 73:3427.
  • Larson, B.T., M.D. Samford, J.M. Camden, E.L. Piper, M.S. Kerley, J.A. Paterson and J.T. turner. 1995. Ergovaline binding and activation of D2 dopamine receptors in GH4ZR7 cells. J. Anim. Sci. 73:1396.
  • Paterson, J., C. Forcherio, B. Larson, M. Samford, and M. Kerley. 1995. The effects of fescue toxicosis on beef cattle productivity. J. Anim. Sci. 73:889.
  • Rhodes, M.T., J.A. Paterson, M.S. Kerley, G.E. Garner, M.H. Laughlin and R.B. Boatwright. 1995. Endophyte-infected tall fescue reduced blood flow to peripheral and core body tissues in sheep and cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 69:2033.
  • Nihsen, M., E.L. Piper, C.P. West, R.J. Crawford, T.M. Denard, Z.B. Johnson, C.A. Roberts, D.A. Spiers, and C.F. Rosenkrans. 2004. Growth rate and physiology of steers grazing tall fescue inoculated with novel endophytes. J. Anim. Sci. 82:878-883.
  • Roberts, C.A., R.L. Kallenbach, and N.S. Hill. 2002. Harvest and storage methods affect ergot alkaloid concentration in tall fescue. Online. Crop Managm. doi. 10:1094/CM-2002-0917-01-BR.
  • Roberts, C.A., D.E. Spiers, A.L. Karr, H.R. Benedict, D.A. Sleper, P.A. Eichen, C.P. West, E.L. Piper, and G.E. Rottinghaus. 2002. Use of a rat model to evaluate tall fescue seed infected with introduced strains of Neotyphodium coenophialum. J. Agric. Food Chem. 50:5742-5745.
  • Larson, B.T., D.M. Sullivan, M.D. Samford, M.S. Kerley, J.A. Paterson and J.T. Turner. 1994. D2 dopamine receptor response to endophyte-infected tall fescue and an antagonist in the rat. J. Anim. Sci. 72:2905.
  • Aldrich, C.G., J.A. Paterson, J.L. Tate and M.S. Kerley 1993. The effects of endophyte-infected tall fescue consumption on diet utilization and thermal regulation in cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 71:164.
  • Aldrich, C.G., M.T. Rhodes, J.L. Miner, M.S. Kerley and J.A. Paterson. 1993. The effects of endophyte-infected tall fescue consumption and use of a dopamine antagonist on intake, digestibility, body temperature, and blood constituents in sheep. J. Anim. Sci. 71:158.
  • Peters, C.W., C.G. Aldrich, K.N. Grigsby, J. A. Paterson, R.J. Lipsey, M.S. Kerley and G.B. Garner. 1992. Endophyte-infected or free tall fescue or orchardgrass pasture for beef cows and calves:I. Forage intake and digestibility. J. Anim. Sci. 70:1550.
  • Grigsby, K.N., C.W. Peter, M.S. Kerley and J. A. Paterson. 1991. Effect of greenchop alfalfa supplementation on nutrient flow and digestion in cattle consuming tall fescue greenchop in May and August. J. Anim. Sci. 69:4602.
  • Hannah, S.M., J.A. Paterson, J.E. Williams and M.S. Kerley 1990. Effect of increasing dietary levels of endophyte-infected tall fescue seed on digestibility and digestive kinetics of sheep. J. Anim. Sci. 68:1693.
  • Turner, K.E., J. A. Paterson, M.S. Kerley and J.R. Forwood. 1990. Effect of mefluidide treatment of tall fescue pastures:intake and animal performance. J. Anim. Sci. 68:3406.
  • Turner, K.E.., J.A. Paterson, M.S. Kerley and J.R. Forwood. 1990. Effect of mefluidide treatment of tall fescue pastures:forage quality. J. Anim. Sci. 68:3399.
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