Goat Performance and Prolactin Levels as Affected by Tall Fescue Toxicosis
Keywords:boer goats, Festuca arundinacea, ergot alkaloids
Ergot alkaloids in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb) infected with Neotyphodium coenophialum cause tall fescue toxicosis with symptoms including decreased prolactin and reduced performance. The development and use of tall fescue with “novel” (a.k.a. non-toxic), endophytes that do not produce ergot alkaloids eliminates tall fescue toxicosis in sheep and cattle. This study examined toxicosis in crossbred Boer goat (Capra hircus) performance and prolactin levels. Secondly, the commercial potential of a new tall fescue cultivar containing a non-toxic, novel endophytes (PDF584) was assessed for goat production in north central Texas. Grazing toxic tall fescue had no effect on goat gain, body condition score, rectal temperatures, or serum prolactin levels when compared to the other treatments. The goat’s physiological ability to de-toxify ergot alkaloids in its liver is speculated to be the cause. PDF584 performed similarly to annual ryegrass and should have potential for use as cool season grazing forage in North Central Texas.