is grown for pasture, hay, silage and as a companion crop
with other forage grass varieties and legumes. Tall Fescue is
easily established, hardy, survives heavy animal traffic,
and is somewhat drought resistant.
Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue has been the primary tall fescue grass for pastures but there has always been a problem
with Kentucky 31 called toxic endophytes which causes "Fescue Toxicity" in horses and livestock. Please scroll down for more
information on using
Tall Fescue for pasture,
endophyte effects on livestock and the
solution to the endophyte problems.
New & Safe Forage Tall Fescue Seed
Endophyte-Friendly & Endophyte-Free Tall Fescue
varieties are now available on the market that help to reduce or
eliminate this problem. MaxQ Pasture Fescue Grass Seed
(friendly endophyte) and
Kentucky 32 Tall Fescue (endophyte free)
are some of the varieties available at Seedland for pasture use.
Many older types of tall fescue, such as Kentucky 31, are already established
in fields or pastures and have many problems that have arisen
overtime. These problems are due to the infection of the fescue
with a fungus called toxic endophyte. Through research and development
there are now new varieties of tall fescue pasture grass that are endophyte free or endophyte friendly and these
should be considered when planting new pastures or renovating
older ones. This is true especially in the southern fescue adaptation areas where horses and cattle are raised.
Always check with the land owner about the kind of grass that is
presently growing on a piece of property when considering
purchasing for pasture purposes.
We have provided this pdf document from the University of Tennessee on
how to reestablish pastures
using endophyte free or endophyte friendly tall fescue grass.
Unfortunately Endophytes are necessary for fescue grass to survive heavy grazing, so getting rid of all
the endophytes is not always the answer unless grazing management is practiced. Although
Bronson Tall Fescue and
Kentucky 32 Tall
Fescue Grass are two endophyte free tall fescue grasses that
claim to withstand continuous grazing and drought. Endophyte friendly tall fescue such as
MaxQ Jesup Tall Fescue grass have been proven to be virtually harmless to cattle, horses
and other grazing animals while increasing production in livestock and withstanding continuous grazing. With the safe and friendly endophytes added to MaxQ tall fescue grass, the plants
live longer and have a higher stress tolerance. Breakthrough technology in the form of a non-toxic fungus offers the best solution to the endophyte problem. MaxQ endophyte friendly tall
fescue grass produces excellent weight gains as shown in
University grazing studies
Additional studies show remarkable stand persistence even after two prolonged summer droughts.
are two characteristics of the endophyte fungus that have great practical importance. First, the organism does not affect either the growth or appearance of the grass, and it requires a laboratory
analysis to detect its presence. Secondly, it is seed transmitted and apparently not transmitted in any other way. Thus, once a non-infected stand is established, it can be expected to remain that way.
Horse Problems - Depending upon what zones tall fescue is
planted in, it can may become infected with endophyte fungus
and when this occurs, fescue grass should not be grazed by pregnant
mares for 60-90 days before foaling. Endophyte infected
fescue can result in prolonged gestation and difficult births,
thickened placentas, infection, foundering and difficult
rebreeding, little or no milk may be produced and colostrums levels
may be decreased.
The actual physical signs of foaling may
not be exhibited and therefore it is harder to judge when foaling
is in the pre-stage, unless accurate records and a close watch of
the grazing animals is kept. Foals born on Mares grazing on Endophyte
infected fescue are often born dead. Strangely, Endophytes
are actually bred into and desirable in lawn grasses to help with
longevity and to increase plant resistance to various factors... but NOT in
NOT USE LAWN GRASSES
FOR PASTURE GRAZING PURPOSES
These grasses can cause
problems in cattle,
sheep and especially horses.
Cattle Problems - Cattle will suffer from
"summer slump". This is a condition that occurs during raised
summer temperatures, shown by a tendency of the cattle to stay in
the shade and water more than usual. Also a winter problem
called "fescue foot" with sloughing of hooves, ears, and
tail due to blood circulation problems. Cattle may not eat
this crop in the summer if any other choice of forage is
Note: Other grazing animals such as sheep are also affected by endophytes in tall fescue grass and will also benefit from the endophyte friendly or endophyte free Tall Fescue Grass varieties that are available.
Northern fescue growers do not have the
same degree of difficulty as those in the transition zone.
Many agronomists feel heat and humidity play an important
role in the endophyte infection process in the southern growing areas.
Management practices of improving fescue with clovers (white
clovers, alfalfa and bird's foot trefoil, orchard grass and
ryegrasses) every 2-3 years may help reduce some of the problem
with fescue foraging in the southern regions.
Tall fescue is one of
the most adaptable grasses grown for grazing purposes. The
types of soil that is can be has good disease and insect
resistance, is thick enough to overcome weed competition, provides
year round pasturage in the northern regions and fall to
spring in the warmer areas of adaptation. These reasons make fescue a
cost effective and hardy grass for all types of pastures and hay
fields. Fescue can be planted in single stands or with other
grasses like orchard grass or perennial rye and clovers or alfalfa to add
extra nutrients and minerals.
Growing three to four
feet high, tall fescue can produce an abundance of hay or
silage material when well managed. Hay should be
harvested in the early maturity stage when the grass
produces the best quality and rate of digestibility.
After the first harvest, cut re-growth 4-6 weeks later.
Tall Fescue is an excellent companion crop, due to it's upright growth pattern and is used in rotational pastures
that are planned for highest productivity and need "resting" to keep producing adequate
amounts of plant material. This time can also be used to fertilize
the pasture while the animals are not grazing and helps reduce
plant stress. This gives the grass time to thicken between
rotations especially in drought conditions and recover from hoof
damage from larger herds.
Tall Fescue grass seed is used to overseed warmer grass pastures
in areas of adaptation and fill in while the warm season
forage is in dormancy. Full time pasturing can greatly reduce the
cost of feeding animals through the winter. With over hundreds of
varieties to choose from and the ease of establishment there are
thousands of acres planted every year in some type of tall fescue for pastures.
Other Uses For Tall Fescue Grass
Tall Fescue grass is also used in erosion control areas that can’t be mown or simply grown for a beautiful meadow effect with
wildflowers. Turf type tall fescue grass varieties are also planted, in it's areas of
adaptation, on millions of
acres for both commercial and residential lawns
a beautiful tomorrow!®