Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
May 13, 1999

Living with Endophyte

Several livestock producers have postponed the establishment of new stands of forage in Fescue fields infected with the endophyte fungus. This largely due to the depressed financial experience agriculture producers are currently coping with.

The cost of re-establishing forages is not cheap. The cost varies from operation to operation but a consideration for estimation purposes is approximately $100.00 per acre depending on the procedure utilized, soil loss, and days of non-grazing potential. Some producers can do a complete re-establishment for less than this while for others the cost is more.

Adding legumes to endophyte-infected Fescue continues to be a common practice. This method is very practical and will provide improved animal performance throughout the grazing season. The level of endophyte infection within a field also influences the amount of depressed production we can expect on livestock. Research data from the Alabama Agriculture Experiment Station indicates that grazing areas with a 25 to 50 percent endophyte infection rate gains were reduced by 0.4 lbs. per head per day and pastures with an 80 to 99 percent infected level gains were reduced by approximately 0.9 lbs. per head per day. Milk production was also reduced by over 4 lbs. over a 12-hour period in cows grazing highly endophyte-infected forages.

White Clover seeded at the rate of 1-3 pounds per acre gave the best results for a companion forage for fescue fields. Red Clover broadcast at the 10-15 pounds per acre or drilled at the rate of 8 pounds also provided an excellent companion crop for grazing areas. Other legumes such as Birdsfoot Trefoil or Alfalfa also were beneficial especially if the forage is scheduled for harvest as hay.

Management of the forage areas is also very important. Early grazing of the Fescue fields will permit the opportunity for the tops of the Fescue plant to be consumed. This provides improved vegetative growth for later grazing. Also, plan your grazing season. Grazing areas that have other grass or increased amounts of legumes need to be utilized later in the grazing season. Whenever the air temperature exceeds approximately 85 degrees F. we can expect to see a depressed effect on the production of livestock. Body temperatures often are elevated by as much as 6 degrees F. when animals are grazing highly endophyte infected fescue fields and the air temperature exceeds 90 degrees F.

Another consideration for improving your present Fescue pastures is the fertility program. It is well documented that high applications of Nitrogen provide the opportunity for additional grass growth and reduces the potential for increased legume establishment. Keep in mind legumes need phosphorus, potassium, and an acceptable ph level for them to express their growth potential.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - May 13, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT051399.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004