Could Endophyte-Infected Fescue Cause Lameness in Horses?

Researchers observed noticeable lameness in horses consuming high levels of endophyte-infected seeds and hay.
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Endophytes–fungi that benefit some grasses such as fescue by acting as a natural insect deterrent–have proven harmful to grazing animals, such as cattle and horses.

Endophyte-infected tall fescue, for example, has long been associated with reproductive problems and abortion in mares. But new research indicates it could also cause some forms of equine lameness.

A group of researchers from Kansas State University (KSU) recently set out to evaluate the effects of endophyte-infected fescue–a common forage found in horse pastures throughout the United States–on horse digital circulation and forelimb lameness.

"If one has fescue pasture, it is highly probable that it is endophyte-infected; most fescue pastures are (infected)," relayed Teresa Douthit, PhD, assistant equine nutrition professor at KSU and lead researcher of the study

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Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as a certified equine acupressure practitioner. She also hosts a blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. Once an avid barrel racer, she now enjoys giving back to the horses who have given her so much.

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