Can Red Clover Cure Fescue Toxicosis?

As part of his research into how an ingredient in red clover, biochanin A, improves feed efficiency and weight gain in ruminants (see last week's article), USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist Michael Flythe did his due diligence, looking for other possible effects of this isoflavone. This extra step led to his discovery that biochanin A can prevent fescue toxicosis. “I wanted to know what happened to biochanin A and the other isoflavones after the rumen,” says Flythe, a research microbiologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service. “It's just good science to consider everything that your treatment might do to the animals.” Flythe knew that biochanin A had to be absorbed because it had been reported as having estrogenic effects on sheep; their fertility was reduced. So he dug into the human nutritional and medical literature and found that isoflavones were explored as ways to relax constricted blood vessels to help with high blood pressure and other conditions. “Then the lightbulb came on,” he says. “My colleagues, Dr. Glen Aiken and Dr. Jimmy Klotz, did research in fescue toxicosis.  I knew from them that the ergot alkaloids made by the fungal endophyte in toxic tall fescue constricted blood vessels. Many of the problems associated with tall fescue, such as increased heat stress and gangrenous lameness ('fescue foot'), are due t

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One thought on “Can Red Clover Cure Fescue Toxicosis?

  1. Thanks so much for these practical updates, Kathy. Good to read of the ongoing science here; please share more on this topic as it becomes available.

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