BY LORETTA SORENSEN
“We’ve cut our grain bill by about
50% since we started using novel
endophytes,” Snyder says.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI EXTENSION
Why Not Phyte it?
How one Missouri grazier took the
‘toxic fescue’ bull by the horns and won
Snyder manages 550 cow/calf pairs
on some 1200 acres near Mount
Vernon, with a focus on backgrounding
calves for the fi rst 45 to 100 days.
He started replacing the ranch’s
Kentucky 31 in 2013. The fi rst cultivar
he chose was Bar Optima.
“This was 2012, right after that year’s
intense, wide spread drought,” Snyder
recalls. “We had a small area that was
leased to neighbors for three or four
years for cash crops. Of course, in 2012,
there was no crop there and we decided
to reclaim it for hay and grass.”
From those fi rst few acres, Snyder
could see that Bar Optima was highly
preferable to Kentucky 31 because
it didn’t contain the toxic fungus.
Although the toxin levels of his
rangeland’s fescue were tolerable,
Snyder was certain it was affecting
cattle health. He also suspected it was
reducing herd fertility.
“Our medicine bill is 10% of what it
was when we grazed 100% Kentucky
31,” Snyder says. “In the past, when
we weaned calves, we’d treat 25 or 30
calves out of 100 head. Now, we treat
just 4 or 5. Cow hoof and lameness
issues are greatly reduced, and reproduction
health is also improved.”
In general, Snyder has converted
approximately 100 acres per year over
the last six years. The process begins
by testing soil to identify fertilizing
needs the fall before a planting occurs.
“You want the soil to be pH friendly
to the grass,” Snyder shares. “For us,
ith a 95% reduction in herd illness, improved fertility
and increased pounds of beef overall, Bart Snyder
is confi dent that replacing his Missouri rangeland’s
Kentucky 31 tall fescue with non-toxic novel endophyte
fescue was a good decision.
32 I WORKING RANCH I JUNE / JULY 2019