Rye grass safety

Asked October 27, 2016, 11:06 AM EDT

I wanted to get information on Rye grass in pastures. We live in lane county and lost a beloved horse last month to Rye grass staggers. When is the toxins in Rye grass at safe levels. I s it after a frost or season. . I am afraid to even turn my other horses out.

King County Washington

1 Response

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your horse. That is never easy. I have been doing some research and talking with some of our other specialists, as there is not very much information about ryegrass staggers in horses and especially with the result being the loss of that horse.
I have some questions for you so that I can help you a bit better. Has this pasture been used before or is it a new pasture to grazing horses? Have you had the pasture grass tested for ryegrass percentage and also testing performed to determine the percentage of endophyte in that ryegrass?
If you have not had any testing done, I will follow up with some information on the lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine, where you can have this testing done.
The thing that has me baffled is that the endophyte is not usually lethal in small doses especially if not stressed.
Could you email me at dawn.sherwood@oregonstate.edu with more information regarding the status of the pasture - was it dry, short, tall with seed heads. Could you also send me information such as age and gender of the horse.
All of this information can better help me to guide you and give you more recommendations.
Please email me so we can get a dialog going in regard to this pasture so I can more effectively help you.