The I-64 Corridor is within the transition zone between the subtropical southeast and the temperate northeast. The predominant forage used for cattle production in this corridor is endophyte-infected tall fescue. This cool-season perennial grass is well adapted to the soils and climate of the region, but its productivity and persistence is due to alkaloids produced by a fungal endophyte that infects most tall fescue plants and imparts tolerances to environmental stresses. The endophyte also produces toxic ergot alkaloids that induce fescue toxicosis, a malady that makes cattle vulnerable to heat and cold stress and can substantially reduce weight gain efficiency and reproductive performance. There are management strategies to mitigate this condition, but the only option to alleviate fescue toxicosis with tall fescue is to replace toxic endophyte–infected tall fescue with tall fescue cultivars infected with novel, nontoxic endophytes. Clovers can be overseeded into tall fescue to enhance weight gain on toxic tall fescue and mitigate fescue toxicosis. Warm-season grasses can be planted to provide an alternative for summer grazing during the months when ergot alkaloid-induced heat stress can have a marked effect on cattle performance. Warm-season grasses can also provide an option to overcome the summer slump in growth of cool-season perennials. Calves in the region are either directly marketed soon after weaning or they are retained to add value by backgrounding on pasture and follow a certified health program. Retaining ownership of calf crops requires additional management to meet additional nutritional needs, and to overcome the challenges of having higher stocking rates for the entire farm.
|Title of host publication
|Management Strategies for Sustainable Cattle Production in Southern Pastures
|Number of pages
|Published - Jan 1 2020
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- native grasses
- Tall fescue
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Engineering (all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)