Performance by spring and fall-calving cows grazing with full, limited, or no access to toxic Neotyphodium coenophialum-infected tall fescue

J. D. Caldwell, K. P. Coffey, J. A. Jennings, D. Philipp, A. N. Young, J. D. Tucker, D. S. Hubbell, T. Hess, M. L. Looper, C. P. West, M. C. Savin, M. P. Popp, D. L. Kreider, D. M. Hallford, C. F. Rosenkrans

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31 Scopus citations


Replacing toxic, wild-type Neotyphodium coenophialum-infected tall fescue (E+) with nontoxic, N. coenophialum-infected tall fescue (NE+) has improved cow performance, but producer acceptance of NE+ has been slow. The objective was to compare performance by spring-and fall-calving cows grazing either E+ or NE+ at different percentages of the total pasture area. Gelbvieh × Angus crossbred cows (n = 178) were stratified by BW and age within calving season and allocated randomly to 1 of 14 groups representing 5 treatments for a 3-yr study: i) Fall-calving on 100% E+ (F100); ii) Spring-calving on 100% E+ (S100); iii) Fall-calving on 75% E+ and 25% NE+ (F75); iv) Spring-calving on 75% E+ and 25% NE+ (S75); and v) Spring-calving on 100% NE+ (SNE100). Groups allocated to F75 and S75 grazed E+ until approximately 28 d before breeding and weaning, then were then moved to their respective NE+ pasture area for 4 to 6 wk; those allocated to F100, S100, and SNE100 grazed their pastures throughout the entire year. Samples of tall fescue were gathered from specific cells within each pasture at the time cows were moved into that particular cell (~1 sample/mo). Blood samples were collected from the cows at the start and end of the breeding season. Stocking rate for each treatment was 1 cow/ha. Forage IVDMD, CP, and total ergot alkaloid concentrations were affected (P < 0.05) by the treatment × sampling date interaction. Hay offered, cow BW, and BCS at breeding, end of breeding, and at weaning were greater (P < 0.05) from fall-calving vs. spring-calving. Cow BW at weaning was greater (P < 0.05) from F75 and S75 vs. F100 and S100. The calving season × NE+ % interaction affected (P < 0.05) calving rates. Preweaning calf BW gain, actual and adjusted weaning BW, ADG, sale price, and calf value at weaning were greater (P < 0.05) from fall-calving vs. spring-calving and from SNE100 vs. S75 except for sale price which was greater (P < 0.05) from S75 vs. SNE100. Cow concentrations of serum prolactin at breeding and serum NEFA at the end of breeding were affected (P < 0.05) by the calving season × NE+ % interaction. Serum Zn and Cu concentrations from cows were affected (P < 0.05) by calving season. A fall-calving season may be more desirable for cows grazing E+, resulting in greater calving rates, cow performance, and calf BW at weaning, whereas limited access to NE+ may increase calving rates, serum prolactin, and NEFA concentrations during certain times in the production cycle, particularly in spring-calving cows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-476
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Calving season
  • Cattle
  • Novel endophyte
  • Performance
  • Tall fescue


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