Tall fescue is a grass which grows on over 35 million acres of land in the United States. As many as 700,000 horses may graze fescue pastures or be fed fescue hay each year. Many of these pastures contain fescue that is infected with an endophytic fungus that is toxic to horses.
When the horse ingests the grass, it is steadily poisoned by alkaloids produced by the fungus.
What many owners may not realize is that there are some significant health risks associated with horses eating endophyte fungus-infected tall fescue. Some of these problems can be minimized with careful management of horses and pastures.
Follow these management tips from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to reduce the risks of health problems caused by EI tall fescue:
For more information about treating EI fescue problems in your horse, contact your equine veterinarian and request “Fescue: Minimizing the Risk to Your Horse’s Health,” a brochure provided by the AAEP in conjunction with Educational Partners Bayer Animal Health and Purina Mills.
Additional information can also be found on the AAEP’s horse health Web site, www.myHorseMatters.com.
Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.