Warning – Nitrate Poisoning in local area
May 6, 2020
Yesterday we had our first diagnosed case of Nitrate poisoning this year. Be aware that symptoms can vary greatly between cows – sudden death, down cows, staggering cows, cows struggling to breath and abortions. Sometimes it can only be 1 or 2 animals and other times it can be a far bigger number.
Risk factors to watch for:
- Overcast days when grass has been growing rapidly
- Recent nitrogen application
- Annual grasses and rapid growing crops (eg. oats)
- Hungry cows on a fresh break
If you suspect Nitrate Poisoning, it is important not to put animals under any stress. Call the vets ASAP and then calmly remove the cattle from the offending feed onto an established grass paddock and offer lots of hay, straw or baleage. Any down cows should be attended by a vet as soon as possible – there is an effective antidote available.
You can test your grass for nitrates to help guide you as to the risk of toxicity. We have both in-clinic tests and at home kits available at the clinic.
To lower the risk of nitrate toxicity:
- Test suspect feeds
- Prevent cows from gorging on lush grass. Feed hay or silage before shifting cattle to new break
- Feed at-risk pastures later in the day (sunlight reduces nitrate levels in feed)