DISORDER: Staggers
Plant Species: Ryegrass, Bermudagrass, Reed Canarygrass, Dallisgrass, Bahiagrass
Causes: Caused by Fungus (Acremonium) in old mature growth/seedhead.
Mode of Action: Acute ergotism produces alkaloids, which are toxic. These alkaloids cause a degeneration of nervous tissue, hence the name staggers.
Chronic ergotism (gangrene) – causes reduced blook circulation, similar to fescue toxicosis (Acremonium)
Animal Symptoms: Acute ergotism – cattle twitch, tremble, become stiff-legged in the hind quarters, weak in the front legs, and are poorly coordinated.
Chronic Ergotism – animals loose extremities.
Conditions: Ryegrass/Dallisgrass – seedheads carry fungi (Claviceps) – reduces blood circulation.
Bermudgrass staggers – tall rank growth with cool cloudy weather promotes fungi.
Treatment: Remove cattle from infested pastures.
Prevention: Graze heavily, mow, suppress seedhead production, and don’t graze seedheads.

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