08-08-2014 01:24 AM | USA

Grain fungus harmful to cattle found in southwest Missouri

Farmers and ranchers in southwest Missouri are being urged to monitor livestock after ergot, a fungus that can be deadly for cattle, was spotted in several hayfields and pastures.

Ergot is an airborne fungus that affects seed heads of cereal grains such as rye, barley, oat and wheat. It is most prevalent in wet, humid years.

Ergot is showing up so often that agronomists are telling farmers to take a hard look at fields where cattle may graze, according to Sarah Kenyon, an agricultural specialist for the University Missouri Extension Service in Texas County. If the fungus is prevalent, they should consider moving cattle to a different location.
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