Fescue and pregnant mares
How prevalent is dangerous fescue in the Klamath Basin. Where can I have it tested?
Klamath County Oregon
Thank you for your question!
Fescue toxicity is caused by a fungus, called an endophyte, which lives within the plant. Together with the plant, this fungus produces alkaloids which cause symptoms of fescue toxicity. In horses, symptoms of fescue toxicity include prolonged gestation, difficult or abnormal delivery, retained placenta, stillborn foals, late-term abortion, or reduced nilk production. Foals born to affected mares can be uncoordinated and have suppressed immune systems.
Source: Pasture and Grazing Management in the Northwest, Chapter 12: Health Considerations for Grazing Animals
Here in Klamath, it is possible to have fescue infected with this endophyte. It is probably best to have your sample tested to be safe.
Samples can be tested at the OSU Endophyte Service Lab. Here is a link to the website for sampling, testing, mailing, and cost information: http://oregonstate.edu/endophyte-lab/
For future reference, endophyte-free fescue seed is commercially available to plant and reduce the risk of fescue toxicosis. This is probably only a viable option if you plan on replanting pastures in the near future.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to give me a call at OSU KBREC, 541-883-7131.