Ergot, a fungal disease that causes restricted blood flow in animals and humans, has been found in Wisconsin and Missouri pastures the past couple of weeks, warn Extension forage specialists.

“We have had a report of ergot in pastures,” warned University of Wisconsin’s Dan Undersander in an email to eHay Weekly on Friday, July 27. “This is not unexpected with the cool, wet spring we had.”

Cattle deaths from the fungus were also reported in Missouri. Craig Roberts, University of Missouri (MU) forage specialist, urged producers to immediately move any livestock from infected fields. He warned that stored hay could also contain the toxin.

The ergot fungus produces alkaloid toxins that cause convulsions, hallucinations, gangrene and death. Ergot poisoning appears to be prevalent throughout Missouri, Roberts said. The cool wet spring, followed by high summer heat and humidity, offered ideal ergot growing conditions.

Lameness is one of the first symptoms of the disease, according to a fact sheet disease profile from UW Extension.

For more information, see the story, Ergot Fungus Causes Cattle Deaths In Missouri Pastures.

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