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Fescue Questions

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nap

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I am using a MIG grazing system with the primary forage being fescue (Kentucky 31). I am rotating the cattle through 20 acre paddocks. I am wondering how short I should let them graze the fescue. I have heard various opinions on this and would be delighted to hear what you guys think. I am also wondering what the growing temperature range is for fescue. Does it go by the 50-90 rule as for rye grass (won't grow below 50 or above 90) or is there a different temperature range?
 

Angus Cowman

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actually fescue will grow down in the 40s pretty consistently with adequate moisture, I try to never graze mine less than 6" unless it is dormant, for a mig system you would benefit alot by interseeding some legumes such as clover and lespedeza
 

dun

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Take half and leave half during the normal grazing season, 3 inches in the winter. The preferred growing range for fewscue is in the neighborhood of 50 or 55 at night to around 76-78 during the days. It's a cool season grass and while it will gorw above and below that range it really struggles.
 

jedstivers

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Not wanting to hijack this thread but I've had some questions about this also. Is KY 31 toxic free and what about native, how do you manage it or do you kill and replant something that is not toxic? Thanks Jed
 

dun

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jedstivers":k6jey33u said:
Not wanting to hijack this thread but I've had some questions about this also. Is KY 31 toxic free and what about native, how do you manage it or do you kill and replant something that is not toxic? Thanks Jed

KY31 is the enophyte infected variety, the endophyte is toxic. The toxic endophyte is ergo-valine or some such name. Interseeding legumes addresses the problem with the toxicity but some cattle just don;t do well on it. Any animals raised in a non-ky31 environemnt will take at least 2 years to adjust to it, some never do. The only way to get rid of the toxic ky31 is to completely erradicate it. There are a number of "novel" endophyte varietys that are non-toxic but they don;t have the persistence that the ky31 does. Another problem is that although they ky31 won;t infect the non-ky31 the ky31 seeds are hardy. They will still sprout and grow after years of laying dormant. Because it's more agressive and presistant eventually you will still end up over the years with more and more ky31 in the field. Cows grazing ky31 should be held off of a non-ky31 pasture for a couple of days so that any sees they ingested are passed before they reseed the new stuff.
IT's easier to just manage the clover and put up with the ky31, cheaper too.
If you select for animals that really thrive on ky31 eventually the problems seems to go away pretty much.
 

4CTophand

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nap":39g5vvwp said:
I am using a MIG grazing system with the primary forage being fescue (Kentucky 31). I am rotating the cattle through 20 acre paddocks. I am wondering how short I should let them graze the fescue. I have heard various opinions on this and would be delighted to hear what you guys think. I am also wondering what the growing temperature range is for fescue. Does it go by the 50-90 rule as for rye grass (won't grow below 50 or above 90) or is there a different temperature range?
Good Topic Dun
Cool season Perennial Kentucky 31 is a nightmare--- first used on the IH systen was great for holding the land together and overpasses. It is true that KY 31 has toxic endophytes and you just cant let it head out..... Some ranchers will say a cow will graze the leafs below and wont eat the stem (heads) this is not true. I will explain in a minute. If you are stuck with an established stand I would graze it down to the 3 inch mark but not below--- because as you should know the brown stomach worm ((which is really a nematode) is the most costly parasite in the cattle business today although mature cows are less susceptible to it than are their calves) are always found in the lower parts of the grass plant ~2 inch mark

The life cycle of this parasite is as follows --- eggs shed in feces at day 0 ; in its' infective larval stage by day 7 ; cows ingest infective larvae when on grass below the 3 inch mark and re-infect themselves with the parasite cutting your production. This rule of thumb will help you decide how many acres your MIG paddocks should really be.

Other negative facts about Fescue are that when cattle eat the toxic head it causes many bad things-- like cutting off blood flow to the extremities (this is why you see cattle missing tails that are on fescue pastures). Other problems include calcification of the Uterus-and you will probably think she is just Cystic and give her some Cystorelin-- but she will never breed again-- fact. Yet still other bad experiences with fescue is an increase in Pink Eye in cows and calves and last but not least stockers being Grass-finished on Fescue KY 31 have the nastiest smelling beef carcasses and taste is pretty bad.....

Other Issues about KY 31 Fescue is that TDN is in the Toilet. and CP isn't that great either-- many times of the year cattle can't meet their nutritional requrements on Fescue alone.
As for optimum growing temperatures for KY 31; normally it has a bi-modal growth pattern depending on where you live--I think you ar in Ark, for instance, under 35 degrees it will not be dormant, but semi dormant not really actively growing growing best in the Spring and dormant during the hot summer months above 80 degrees (when endophytes are toxic) and after the heat of the Summer months have passed it will again have decent growth until cold weather yet returns.

Most people I know that are stuck with Fescue have either killed it and planted Orchardgrass or no-till seeded some clover in there to help improve the CP and TDN available to their cattle.
they do have a so-called endophyte free Fescue you can read up on Max Q, but the stands seem to have a poor survival rate due to the lack of this toxic endophyte. All I know to do with KY 31 is graze it to 3 inches drag your pastures after each grazing event and dont worry you cant kill it by grazing even if you wanted to

T
 

Angus Cowman

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good post 4CT
another thing to do to fight the toxicity in your cattle is to feed a free choice mineral with CTC in it.

it is almost impossible to eliminate the ky31 in our part of the country,also in these hills if it weren't for fescue as a permanent pasture you could not raise hardly any cows 50 yrs ago our stocking rates were close to that of western oklahoma I have heard 1pair per 20-25 acres
 

nap

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dun":f136fxnq said:
Take half and leave half during the normal grazing season, 3 inches in the winter. The preferred growing range for fewscue is in the neighborhood of 50 or 55 at night to around 76-78 during the days. It's a cool season grass and while it will gorw above and below that range it really struggles.

Thanks for the information. We have been experiencing wild extremes in temperature lately. I guess the fescue is just growing in spurts but it seems to keeping up with cattle demand.
 

nap

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Angus Cowman":5g88ottg said:
actually fescue will grow down in the 40s pretty consistently with adequate moisture, I try to never graze mine less than 6" unless it is dormant, for a mig system you would benefit alot by interseeding some legumes such as clover and lespedeza

Thanks for the information. I am guilty of grazing it to less than 6 inches but it seems to be doing well as are the cattle.
 

nap

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dun":3sbsxrfb said:
jedstivers":3sbsxrfb said:
Not wanting to hijack this thread but I've had some questions about this also. Is KY 31 toxic free and what about native, how do you manage it or do you kill and replant something that is not toxic? Thanks Jed

KY31 is the enophyte infected variety, the endophyte is toxic. The toxic endophyte is ergo-valine or some such name. Interseeding legumes addresses the problem with the toxicity but some cattle just don;t do well on it. Any animals raised in a non-ky31 environemnt will take at least 2 years to adjust to it, some never do. The only way to get rid of the toxic ky31 is to completely erradicate it. There are a number of "novel" endophyte varietys that are non-toxic but they don;t have the persistence that the ky31 does. Another problem is that although they ky31 won;t infect the non-ky31 the ky31 seeds are hardy. They will still sprout and grow after years of laying dormant. Because it's more agressive and presistant eventually you will still end up over the years with more and more ky31 in the field. Cows grazing ky31 should be held off of a non-ky31 pasture for a couple of days so that any sees they ingested are passed before they reseed the new stuff.
IT's easier to just manage the clover and put up with the ky31, cheaper too.
If you select for animals that really thrive on ky31 eventually the problems seems to go away pretty much.

Good information. I have had my Brahman herd on a rotational grazing scheme using the fescue paddocts during the winter for four years and haven't experienced any fescue toxicity. Maybe this is because the Brahmans have a unique resistance to the endophyte. I have 23 bred Hereford heifers grazing the fescue with the Brahmans. This is my first year with Herefords so I am concerned about how they will handle the fescue. Jed brought up an interesting point about the difference, if any, between native fescue and Kentucky Ky31. I assumed I had 31 because it is common in this area. Maybe I need to take a sample to the state plant board and have it checked out. Most people that I've talked to don't like the endophyte free fescues, because they seem to lack the hardyness of Ky31.
 

dun

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nap":18kl3v6q said:
Jed brought up an interesting point about the difference, if any, between native fescue and Kentucky Ky31. I assumed I had 31 because it is common in this area. Maybe I need to take a sample to the state plant board and have it checked out. Most people that I've talked to don't like the endophyte free fescues, because they seem to lack the hardyness of Ky31.

Unless you live in Kentucky there really isn't any native fescue. KY31 was spread far and wide because of it's extreme hardiness. We have pastures that were originally seeded something like 75 years ago and the fescue is still going strong, and yes, it's very high in endophyte.
There are dozens of fescue types but KY31 will eventually eliminate all of them. Maybe crabgrass or bermuda might stand a chance.
 

nap

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Unless you live in Kentucky there really isn't any native fescue. KY31 was spread far and wide because of it's extreme hardiness. We have pastures that were originally seeded something like 75 years ago and the fescue is still going strong, and yes, it's very high in endophyte.
There are dozens of fescue types but KY31 will eventually eliminate all of them. Maybe crabgrass or bermuda might stand a chance.

Thanks Dun, that clears that issue up.
 

nap

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4CTophand":1qjdnffo said:
nap":1qjdnffo said:
I am using a MIG grazing system with the primary forage being fescue (Kentucky 31). I am rotating the cattle through 20 acre paddocks. I am wondering how short I should let them graze the fescue. I have heard various opinions on this and would be delighted to hear what you guys think. I am also wondering what the growing temperature range is for fescue. Does it go by the 50-90 rule as for rye grass (won't grow below 50 or above 90) or is there a different temperature range?
Good Topic Dun
Cool season Perennial Kentucky 31 is a nightmare--- first used on the IH systen was great for holding the land together and overpasses. It is true that KY 31 has toxic endophytes and you just cant let it head out..... Some ranchers will say a cow will graze the leafs below and wont eat the stem (heads) this is not true. I will explain in a minute. If you are stuck with an established stand I would graze it down to the 3 inch mark but not below--- because as you should know the brown stomach worm ((which is really a nematode) is the most costly parasite in the cattle business today although mature cows are less susceptible to it than are their calves) are always found in the lower parts of the grass plant ~2 inch mark

The life cycle of this parasite is as follows --- eggs shed in feces at day 0 ; in its' infective larval stage by day 7 ; cows ingest infective larvae when on grass below the 3 inch mark and re-infect themselves with the parasite cutting your production. This rule of thumb will help you decide how many acres your MIG paddocks should really be.

Other negative facts about Fescue are that when cattle eat the toxic head it causes many bad things-- like cutting off blood flow to the extremities (this is why you see cattle missing tails that are on fescue pastures). Other problems include calcification of the Uterus-and you will probably think she is just Cystic and give her some Cystorelin-- but she will never breed again-- fact. Yet still other bad experiences with fescue is an increase in Pink Eye in cows and calves and last but not least stockers being Grass-finished on Fescue KY 31 have the nastiest smelling beef carcasses and taste is pretty bad.....

Other Issues about KY 31 Fescue is that TDN is in the Toilet. and CP isn't that great either-- many times of the year cattle can't meet their nutritional requrements on Fescue alone.
As for optimum growing temperatures for KY 31; normally it has a bi-modal growth pattern depending on where you live--I think you ar in Ark, for instance, under 35 degrees it will not be dormant, but semi dormant not really actively growing growing best in the Spring and dormant during the hot summer months above 80 degrees (when endophytes are toxic) and after the heat of the Summer months have passed it will again have decent growth until cold weather yet returns.

Most people I know that are stuck with Fescue have either killed it and planted Orchardgrass or no-till seeded some clover in there to help improve the CP and TDN available to their cattle.
they do have a so-called endophyte free Fescue you can read up on Max Q, but the stands seem to have a poor survival rate due to the lack of this toxic endophyte. All I know to do with KY 31 is graze it to 3 inches drag your pastures after each grazing event and dont worry you cant kill it by grazing even if you wanted to

T

Wow! Thank you for the comprehensive answer. This is the second time I am writing a reply to your post. I guess the first one ended up in electronic heaven. So far, I haven't noticed any obvious signs of fescue toxicity. I do have one cow ( 4 yr. old Brahman) that has a chronic infection between her front hooves but according to the veterinarian (who also happens to be my wife) it isn't a fescue issue. I sort of inherited the fescue situation on this place and so far it has paid huge benefits in less hay usage. Isn't it ironic how one person's nightmare can be another person's godsend?
 

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Fescue won't hurt cattle when it is dormant. Fescue is at its best when stockpiled for winter grazing. The seed head is the most toxic keep seed heads clipped and feed a good mineral as Angus Cowman said and you are on your way to living with Ky31.
 

dun

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The severe toxic affects are generally a winter thing. The problem is the decreased blood flow to exermeties. That's why you see fescue foot, sloughed tails, etc. In the heat of summer standing in ponds is also an indication because it increases body temps, also causes problems with conception because of the increased temp.
 

Red Bull Breeder

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I never have any problems with freeze or frost killed fescue most problems i have is with mature fescue in late spring into summer.
 

dun

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We had one old cow that never carried very good condition through the summer, she bred back but just also looked kinda poor. One day I was out working in the pasture and she came walking by and I heard this stringe squeeky sound. She was pulling all of the seed heads and eating them and ignoring the rest of the grass. Her stupid daughter does the same thing except whe was raised on this poison and carrys better condition then her mother. Could be the half Herefrod in her vice the straight angus in her mother.
 

nap

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Red Bull Breeder":3d47cz28 said:
I never have any problems with freeze or frost killed fescue most problems i have is with mature fescue in late spring into summer.

Thanks for the info. I don't anticipate a problem with seed heads since I will pull the cattle off of the fescue as soon as the clover takes over in the spring.
 

nap

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dun":3jcx4roa said:
We had one old cow that never carried very good condition through the summer, she bred back but just also looked kinda poor. One day I was out working in the pasture and she came walking by and I heard this stringe squeeky sound. She was pulling all of the seed heads and eating them and ignoring the rest of the grass. Her stupid daughter does the same thing except whe was raised on this poison and carrys better condition then her mother. Could be the half Herefrod in her vice the straight angus in her mother.

That is funny. Sounds like you might need to do a little genetic alteration in your herd.
 
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