During the summer in southeast Kansas cattle on cool season fescue grass pastures may tend to perform poorly. Often times, this is due to summer slump, otherwise known as fescue toxicosis. The fescue grass plant contains an endophyte (fungus). This endophyte helps make the plant hardy, but it also produces a chemical (alkaloid) that can cause negative effects in cattle, if eaten in high doses.
Symptoms of summer slump include poor hair coat, elevated body temperatures, feet problems (fescue foot), and poor breeding rates. While these symptoms can affect all cattle, it is most generally noticed in black hided cattle.
Summer slump increases core body temperatures. Affected cattle spend the majority of their time in ponds or in under shade, rather than grazing in the pasture. Some strategies to mitigate the effects of summer slump include feeding a good mineral supplement (specifically formulated for use on fescue pastures), culling poor performers from the herd, and providing alternative feed sources.
For more information on fescue and its effect on cattle, contact me a (620)-223-3720 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.