Fatal Fungus Spotted in Missouri Pastureland

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BOONE COUNTY - Plant scientists warned Missouri cattle and horse owners of a fatal fungus that recently showed up in pastureland.

Sicentists have spotted the fungus, Ergot, in many Missouri pastures. It has already killed four cows in 20-cow herd in northeast Missouri.

It can also cause fertility problems and decrease the appetite of animals. If affects cattle, horse, llamas and other mammals.

John Coats, the owner of the Coats High Ridge Farm, said high moisture content was the reason for the growth of the fungus.

"We had a early spring that was wet, and it turned out hot, and the fungus grows in the plant. Last year, when it was dry, we didn't have a fungus problem," Coats said.

Ergot looks like rodent droppings in the seed head of plants and grows on rye and related plants.