How’s everybody doing with the ergot problem?

Fruitcake

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After the threads from a month or so back, I just wondered how the ergot situation was going for those affected this year.

I’ve had two of my fields topped. They seem to be growing back quite well and most of the cuttings are rotting well. Horses still aren’t grazing them but I feel better knowing the dreaded ergot is gone. I hand clipped the less-affected field and am now strip grazing into that, religiously checking and clipping any slightly suspect seed heads each time I move the fence.

I hope others have found some sort of solution.
 

Landcruiser

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I'm exactly where you are OP. My topped field looks good for when I will need it later on. They are strip grazing over one that was close grazed earlier in the year then rested - there is almost no ergot on that one, what there is I pick before moving the fence.
 

southerncomfort

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I've hand snipped 'bad' seedheads and strimmed the rest. I've just started strip grazing the winter paddock and I'm religiously walking the strip before moving any fencing.

It was one hell of a job and my back sstill hasn't recovered, but I feel very relieved to have got rid of it!
 

Polos Mum

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Not to be alarmist but the advice from the USA where this is more of a thing was to plough the field and not grow grass for 2 years because it lives in the soil for so long, presumably more so if you cut it and leave it on the ground. I thought at the time it was pretty unlikely large livery yards would be doing that !!
I hope the risk to horses was blown out of proportion

Perhaps another questions might be does anyone know of anyone who's had a horse get ill from it? I presume there must be a good number of people who didn't hear about it or weren't in a position to do much about it so in the absence of lots of threads about sick horses I hope that scientific article that was linked in the thread about this on the feed forum was right and that quantities eaten had to be so huge it's not worth stressing over.
 

Errin Paddywack

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I am afraid I am ignoring it. The sheep are grazing the 14 acre field and no horse will be going on that for at least a month possibly more depending on weather. I am moving the fence back very slowly for my mare and hoping for the best. Next year we will not be letting the rye grass go to seed. This seems to be the only grass that has it.
 

Red-1

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Not to be alarmist but the advice from the USA where this is more of a thing was to plough the field and not grow grass for 2 years because it lives in the soil for so long, presumably more so if you cut it and leave it on the ground. I thought at the time it was pretty unlikely large livery yards would be doing that !!
I hope the risk to horses was blown out of proportion

Perhaps another questions might be does anyone know of anyone who's had a horse get ill from it? I presume there must be a good number of people who didn't hear about it or weren't in a position to do much about it so in the absence of lots of threads about sick horses I hope that scientific article that was linked in the thread about this on the feed forum was right and that quantities eaten had to be so huge it's not worth stressing over.
Yes, a friend shared FB post from a person who has had 2 horses die. Tragic, as they had spotted it and taken the horses off, but too late.

Mine are cut, so we don't have any. If I did, I wouldn't be grazing it though.
 

TPO

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After an initial panic we put sheep on it. They've grazed it down and then it was rested.

Horses out on it now. So far neither species has been ill.

Spoke to the farmer and vet and neither have had any animal with ergot poisoning.

It was apparently bad last year too, if you search fb there are some 2019/20 threads about it, and again nothing appears to have gotten ill. Somehow it caused mass hysteria (including myself in that) this year.

Ploughing horse fields is generally frowned upon because of Grass Sickness. Having said that we done a soil test and as thr pasture is mainly clover and rye decided to trash the whole big field this winter then spray to kill everything (neighbouring farmer is organic so he is dealing with it all to make it safe and minimal chemicals etc) then plough and reseed with Meadow grasses. It'll have 18mths+ rested and the other paddocks, mudslab hard standing and (hopefully!) arena will have to keep them for 2022 into 2023. When they switch those fields will get thr same treatment 🙈

X posted with red 😬
 

Fruitcake

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Yes, a friend shared FB post from a person who has had 2 horses die. Tragic, as they had spotted it and taken the horses off, but too late.

Mine are cut, so we don't have any. If I did, I wouldn't be grazing it though.
If it's the post I saw, I think both horses had pre-existing liver issues. I don't think there were any details about it definitely being ergot but I wondered if it had been a cause.
 

Fruitcake

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Not to be alarmist but the advice from the USA where this is more of a thing was to plough the field and not grow grass for 2 years because it lives in the soil for so long, presumably more so if you cut it and leave it on the ground. I thought at the time it was pretty unlikely large livery yards would be doing that !!
I hope the risk to horses was blown out of proportion.
I think (hope) that advice was more in relation to growing grain where you need the seed head. I think (again, hope!) that as long as you top the grass before the seed heads have a chance to develop the next year, it should be OK.
 
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I certainly have some, but you have to go searching for it. I'm strip grazing from about now til mid November, so I've decided just to open the strip more slowly and feed more hay, thereby reducing the percentage of ergot 🤷‍♀️

I hoping by mid november/early December that the seed heads will all have dropped? Then I'll be able to just open up all my winter grazing as normal 🤞🏻🤞🏻

I'm willing to bet that I had this exact same situation last year but didn't know about it. Plan for next year will be to put sheep on in the early summer to stop the grass going to seed in the first place, then get them off by the end of summer to allow some growth for winter grazing.
 

PapaverFollis

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Mine was all strimmed pre-ergot development bar the walkway to the field. I removed the worst of that by hand and then we strimmed and removed the cuttings. We are leading them in and out over that bit for the time being. Seeds on other areas of grass that went to seed have dropped now for the most part.

We are grazing the grass that went to flower but was strimmed before going to seed now.

I'm going to get some milk thistle within the next couple of weeks and start feeding a course of that.

I believe ploughing it in is only really necessary for cereal crop production, where you have to let the grass go to seed. It seems to me that we can prevent re-infection of our grass by just not allowing it to go to seed at all for a couple of years. Also there was no ergot that I could see last year so evening you were to plough in what's to say it would not get reinfected. By winter field was ploughed and newly seeded 18 months ago... and had ergot on the seed heads we missed in strimming this year. So how would ploughing it again help? The advice to plough it on says not to grow a cereal crop for a year too. If next door farmer keeps growing his oats then it isn't really going to help me to not have grass for another two years anyway.
 

Gift Horse

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We have a small patch of Rye at the bottom of one field. I have cut the seed heads/stems off and bagged them up.
The rest of the grazing is mostly fog, bent, fescue, timothy...... and it seems to be unaffected.
 

southerncomfort

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Rye grass went mad this year and was quite badly affected as was Cocks Foot and Foxtail.

Generally the ponies seem to avoid eating the above anyway and always graze around them.

Overall I would say maybe 30% of the grazing was affected.

Having only a small acreage means my options are fairly limited for removing undesirable grasses but I'm improving the soil and OH thinks their is a grass topper that can be used with a 4x4 which would be very handy!
 
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