Saturday, May 23, 2009

74 - Dangerous

This innocuous looking grass is tall fescue, and it is the cause of a great deal of trouble and expense for me. This grass has a parasite called an endophyte (a parasite to the plant--a symbiotic relationship which is beneficial to both the grass and the endophyte). This endophyte is a real problem for breeders of horses, sheep and goats, although it doesn't appear to affect cattle. (Sheep and goats get the worst of it--I won't go into the gory details, and they really are gory.)

In horses it causes a number of issues related to the hormonal disruptions it causes. I lost a gorgeous Appy colt in 2006 because of some hay that had a lot of fescue in it. This year, I discovered a drug called domperidone (brand name Equidone) which counteracts some, but not all, of the effects of endophyte toxicity. The result was my Symphony in Silk. The expense is $100 a month until the foal is weaned. I can't imagine the expense for a large horse! Ladyhawk weighs about 350 lbs. At 1100 or 1200, the dose is increased proportionately! OUCH!

Anyway, this lovely batch of fescue was photographed in my pasture, grown from seeds that were in that hay. So innocent looking. So dangerous for baby horses, lambs, kids . . .


  1. What interesting things we learn in these blogs! Thanks for the lesson...

  2. Again, you taught me something new! Interesting!

  3. Yikes! You'd never think by looking at it ....


  4. That's really awful. Are the seeds only in the hay and not poisonous as seeds?

  5. I guess there are nasty imported weeds everywhere. Hope it doesn't spread more.