Alliance for Grassland Renewal Workshop

Press Release

Above: Angus cattle seek relief from summer heat and humidity wading in a pond. Fescue Toxicosis reduces cattle’s natural ability to regulate its body temperature in both hot and cold weather                                   Photo: Margaret Stratton



1- Day Novel Endophyte Tall Fescue Schools for Cattle Producers

January 5, 2018

By Noel Oliver


The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is working collaboratively with Virginia Cooperative Extension as well as University Extension in Missouri, Kentucky and North and South Carolina to host a series of 1-day educational workshops to assist area cattle producers with novel endophyte fescue renovation. The workshop will provide the tools and information needed to remove toxic tall fescue and replace it with novel tall fescue varieties.


Discussion Topics

*Fescue Toxicosis, symptoms and causes                            *Economics

*Establishment and 1st year Management                         *Seed and Endophyte Testing    *Toxic to Non-Toxic Transition                                           *Company Products                *Demonstrations                                                                    *Producer Panel 

*Financial Incentives


Background Information

Tall Fescue Toxicosis affects cattle foraging on toxic Tall Fescue. It can cause multiple health issues, including loss of livestock. Health issues directly translate into lost revenue for cattle producers.  Researchers at Clemson University have estimated that revenue lost to Fescue Toxicosis can reach $1 billion annually industry wide.


Tall Fescue, or Kentucky 31, (K31) is naturally heat, drought, disease and insect resistant.  Studies have revealed that an endophyte- a fungus that grows between the cell walls of the Fescue plant is responsible for K31’s hardiness.


In the mid 70’s research discovered that this endophyte was a dangerous toxin to foraging livestock. The fungus produces ergot alkaloids, compounds that shrink blood vessels and reduce blood flow. Reduced blood flow impairs an animal’s natural ability to cool itself in hot weather. Overheated cattle become lethargic and eat less, gaining less weight. During cold weather, the “vaso-constriction” (shrinking of blood vessels), restrict blood flow and warmth to extremities. In severe cases an animal’s hoof will slough off – this is “Fescue Foot.” The only course of action is to put the animal down.  Toxic Fescue also inhibits normal reproduction. Reduced conception rates, lower birth weights and growth rates have been documented. Fescue Toxicosis can inhibit milk production; a condition called Agalactia. 

Scientific research has led to the development of “novel-endophyte” strains for Tall Fescue.  The endophytes are non-toxic to livestock and possess environmental stress resistances similar to K31.

The Alliance for Grassland Renewal provides educational schools to assist producers with successfully       converting Kentucky 31 tall fescue to novel endophyte varieties.   Schools begin with understanding fescue toxicosis, then walk producers through the conversion process. Conversion topics include establishment     practices, fertility needs, smother crops, weed control, stand maintenance, and variety selection. Schools     provide hands on training for drill calibration in addition to pasture walks to observe different novel endophyte varieties.

Dates and Locations

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 Vernon, MO
  • Thursday, March 8, 2018 Lexington, KY
  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 Pendleton, SC
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Raleigh, NC
  • Thursday, March 15, 2018 Raphine, VA


Registration Information:  Telephone: 660-895-5121