New fescue non-toxic to livestock

New fescue non-toxic to livestock

A new tall fescue variety that is non-toxic to grazing animals has been developed at the University of Kentucky. Called Lacefield MaxQ II, the variety was developed through selections made from endophyte-free Kentucky 31 and related lines. University of Kentucky plant breeder Tim Phillips named the variety for Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky professor emeritus, to honor Lacefield’s numerous contributions to the forage industry and to the college.

Lacefield MaxQ II contains an endophyte developed by AgResearch in New Zealand. While active, the endophyte does not produce ergot alkaloids that can cause fescue toxicosis, a disease that primarily affects cattle but can also negatively impact pregnant mares and milk-producing goats. The active alkaloids in the variety give it drought tolerance, insect resistance and help with vigor, according to the University of Kentucky.

“It has the persistence and performance of the endophyte found in Kentucky 31, but doesn’t have the bad qualities of that endophyte,” Phillips said.

The variety has been tested for 12 years in on-farm trials at the university’s research farms, as well as on private farms in Kentucky and other states. The variety has tested well in all locations for seeding vigor, high yield potential, grazing tolerance, live weight gains by stocker cattle and resistance to winter injury, Phillips said. Lacefield MaxQ II is expected to be commercially available in 2017.