Taking cattle off toxic tall fescue before and during breeding season will improve pregnancy rates, according to Clemson University and University of Tennessee research.

In a multiyear grazing study, 99 two- and three-year-old beef cows were divided into two groups grazing four total forage treatment combinations pre- and post artificial insemination: (toxic tall) fescue-fescue, fescue-other (common bermudagrass and annual ryegrass), other-fescue and other-other.

Switching cows from fescue to other forage improved conception rates while moving cattle from other forage to fescue reduced them.

University of Kentucky research on toxic tall fescue and its relation to heat stress on steers advocates taking cattle off toxic fescue pasture for four to five weeks. This is to clear the animals of ergot alkaloids produced in endophyte-infected fescue, which make cattle more susceptible to heat stress.