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Nitrate toxicity in livestock

Gary Strickland


Farmers and ranchers depend on the successful combination of livestock and crops.

Forage crops, in particular, are important to the producer, but they should be monitored due to plant toxicants that can be a problem.

One toxicosis of concern is Nitrate (N03 ) toxicity. The location of the toxicant within a plant is different. Therefore, it is necessary to be familiar with plant factors, livestock factors, and management practices to safely utilize forages that have the potential of this toxicosis.

Practically all plants contain detectable amounts of nitrates. Excessive nitrate accumulation occurs when the uptake of nitrate exceeds its utilization in plants for protein synthesis.

Despite a producer's best efforts to avoid growing forages that contain dangerous concentrations of nitrate, occasionally, drought-stricken pastures of hay crops produce feeds that test high in nitrates.

There may be methods of handling the high nitrate hays or pastures that reduce the risk of death or production losses. However, if the forage has extremely high concentrations of nitrate, such as 25,000 ppm, then the risk to livestock health is very great even when all known management techniques are employed.

Knowledge of some livestock factors detailed in this article will aid in a producers decision on how to either prevent or manage the effect of high nitrate feed sources.

The article also explores the various factors that could account for poisoning such as fertilizers.

Most helpfully, the article details practical strategies on how to avoid nitrate poisoning by following a series of simple steps.



For more of the article, please click here


Article made possible through the contribution of the Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

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