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April 11, 2002

Report from Jimmy Henning, Extension Forage Specialist
Department of Agronomy
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture


Twelve horse farms and one hay farm are being monitored for several soil, pasture and environmental parameters thought to be related to the MRLS outbreak of 2001. As of April 11, all farms have had 3 cycles of sampling completed. Forage samples are analyzed for fungal mycotoxins, alkaloids associated with tall fescue, cyanide and minerals. Soil samples are checked for populations of yeasts and molds.

Fungal mycotoxins: 116 samples have been submitted with 80 results returned. All data are below detectable limits.

Alkaloids associated with tall fescue: 192 samples submitted, 168 results returned. All levels are low and within normal ranges for early spring.

Cyanide associated with white clover: 84 submitted, 34 returned. Levels vary by field but are low and within normal ranges for early spring.

Forage mineral content (including nitrate): 76 submitted, 67 returned. All samples are within normal ranges for early spring.

Soil microbial count: Counts for yeasts and molds are variable but within a normally expected range.

Horses from these pastures have experienced no MRLS symptoms.


Voluntary Sampling Program

Some farms have expressed an interest in taking forage samples to be analyzed only in the case of an MRLS event. This voluntary sampling would expand the number of farms for which monitoring data would be available, if needed. UK has developed a protocol for general pasture sampling and can be made available on request to Jimmy Henning, jhenning@uky.edu or Wayne Long, pwlong@uky.edu.

These samples would be held frozen on-farm and would only be analyzed in the event of a recurrence of MRLS symptoms on that farm.

For more information, contact Jimmy Henning, jhenning@uky.edu or Wayne Long, pwlong@uky.edu.



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