Extension Agent for Agriculture
During the summer in southeast Kansas, cattle on cool-season fescue grass pastures may tend to perform poorly. Oftentimes this is due to summer slump, otherwise known as fescue toxicosis. The fescue grass plant contains an endophyte (fungus). This endophyte helps make the plant hardy, but it also produces a chemical (alkaloid) that can cause negative effects in cattle, if eaten in high doses.
Symptoms of summer slump include poor hair coat, elevated body temperatures, feet problems (fescue foot), and poor breeding rates. While these symptoms can affect all cattle, it is most generally noticed in black hided cattle.
Summer slump increases core body temperatures. Affected cattle spend the majority of their time in ponds or under shade, rather than grazing in the pasture.