Farm Talk

Livestock

December 10, 2013

Winter weather can increase fescue foot issues

Parsons, Kansas — Fescue is a great fall and winter forage, thanks to its ability to be stockpiled for grazing during cold, snowy weather.

"Unfortunately, as winter weather sets in and temperatures drop below freezing some fescue pastures may contain high levels of toxins such as ergovaline. This compound is produced by an endophyte fungus prevalent in Kentucky 31 fescue," said Eldon Cole, a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.

Ergovaline causes a constriction of the blood vessels which coupled with sensitive cattle and freezing weather, may result in fescue foot. The first noted symptoms are stiffness and sore in the rear feet and legs.

"It is easier to detect this symptom early on cold mornings when the cattle first come off their beds," said Cole. "There may be swelling in the pastern and the lower leg. If the cattle are not removed soon there can be a break in the skin around the hoof or leg area. The break appears to be the result of a fine wire wrapped around the area."

Someone unacquainted with fescue foot first thinks the swelling and soreness is from foot rot. Antibiotic treatment as soon as possible aids foot rot but does nothing for fescue foot.

"The best treatment for fescue foot is to remove the affected animals immediately from the pasture. Simply placing them on another fescue pasture may help. Just to be on the safe side, drylot the really sore-footed cattle and give them hay and some concentrate feed," said Cole.

According to Cole, there should be improvement in a few days. If the ergovaline level was high the animal may draw up, resist moving and even lose a toe or the lower part of the leg. Cattle not so severely affected may lose their tail switch and ultimately have rear hooves that grow out.

"There are differences in animal's susceptibility to the fescue toxins. Genetic predisposition is one possibility. Cattle that have not been use to an ergovaline insult in their diet from fescue are more susceptible. This latter situation is seen when cattle are purchased and brought to the fescue belt from non-ergovaline producing forage areas," said Cole.

Fescue-foot does not appear to the same degree every year. Environment and management seems to trigger the bad responses. This year's lush fall growth in southwest Missouri could make the risk higher.

Plant breeders have developed novel endophyte bearing fescue varieties which reduce, or totally eliminate the risk of fescue foot. Farmers with persistent fescue sensitivity problems, whether fescue foot in cold weather or heat stress in warm weather should look into replacing the culprit fescue stands with the novel or friendly fescue or another variety of pasture.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, 417-466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at 417-345-7551, Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at 417-276-3313 or Logan Wallace in Howell County at 417-256-2391. Help is also available from any of the MU Extension agronomy specialists in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, 417-357-6812; Jill Scheidt in Barton County, 417-682-3579; John Hobbs in McDonald County, 417-223-4775 or Sarah Kenyon in Texas County, 417-967-4545. £

1
Text Only
Livestock
  • Cattle markets likely topped for now

    Most of Oklahoma received rain in the past week with roughly half the state receiving one to over three inches and a few areas receiving even heavier rains that filled ponds which have been low or dry for many months.
    Forage growth, which had just begun to stall under summer heat, has picked back up.  Summer heat is forecast to return this week and, along with high humidity from recent rain, will lead to sweltering heat indices that will impact both cattle and the producers who care for them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Follow BQA guidelines when treating and selling cows

    Summer time often brings a few infectious ailments to beef cows.  Common problems include eye infections and foot rot.

    July 15, 2014

  • Mixed emotions in the beef industry

    The beef industry is experiencing a wide range of emotions at the current time.  The level of excitement is obvious as cattle and beef prices have pushed even beyond record levels of earlier this year.

    July 8, 2014

  • Heat impacts bull fertility

    Recently a producer asked about the impact that the heat of the summer of 2012 may have had on the reduced calf crop that was discovered the following spring.

    July 1, 2014

  • charolaisXheifer.jpg Summer cattle market conditions

    Summer officially started this past weekend and cattle markets so far have shown little of the seasonal pressure that has been expected.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Monitor medicated mineral intake

    Medicated minerals are available and frequently used to help prevent the blood-born disease, anaplasmosis. A consistent and appropriate intake of the mineral is critical to a successful anaplasmosis prevention program.

    June 17, 2014

  • Should cow/calf producers lock in fall calf prices?

     In recent article, I discussed record high feeder cattle prices as well as the lack of profits for current feedlot placements. While current price levels offer little or no profit opportunity for buyers of feeder cattle, those same prices could result in record or near record profits for cow-calf producers this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • Feeder cattle markets red hot

    Widespread rains over the Memorial weekend may have curtailed holiday activities but were enthusiastically welcomed by cattle producers in the Southern Plains.

    June 3, 2014

  • Is beef herd expansion underway?

    The effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014. Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.

    May 28, 2014

  • cowshotwire.jpg Record feeder prices supported by latest data

    Last week, the Oklahoma combined auction price for 450-500 lb., Med/Large, No. 1 steers was $237.27/cwt., up 46 percent from one year ago.

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content