Incidence of Endophyte Infected Forage in Maine Livestock Forage Sources

Endophyte-infected forages consumed by beef cattle and other livestock can cause lameness, poor gains, reduced milk production and abortion. The economic impact on Maine’s $142 Million livestock industry could be high. Cattle fed endophyte-infected forages could experience 34% reduction in pregnancy rates, 50% reduction in average daily gains or 50% reduction in milk production.

In Maine the level of endophyte-infected tall fescue or perennial ryegrass is unknown. This project will assess the level of endophyte-infected forages present in pasture and hay fed to livestock in Maine.

Staff will take samples of forage (hay and/or pasture) from ten livestock farms that will be sent to a university lab for testing for the presence and level of endophyte-infection. Herd health histories will also be recorded. A perennial ryegrass cultivar trial at the UMaine Rogers Farm will also have samples submitted for testing. A survey of Maine veterinarians to detect the frequency of endophyte-associated cases will be disseminated.

As a result of this project, the project team will prepare evidence-based recommendations for Maine livestock owners to reduce impacts from endophyte-infected forage. This information will be shared through Extension educational meetings, print and electronic media.

Full report is available in the MAC Integrated Research & Extension Grant Reports: 2014-2015.

Project No.: MAC140

Investigators: Donna Coffin, Rick Kersbergen, Anne Lichtenwalner, Don Hoenig