Check Nitrate Levels in Annual Forages and Cover Crops

Before Grazing or Harvesting, Check Nitrate Levels in Annual Forages and Cover Crops

August 2016

photo - cattle grazing in forage cover crop fieldHot, dry weather can increase the risk of high nitrates in annual forages and cover crops. Producers planning to harvest or graze annual forages should consider testing their forages. If forages are high in nitrates then the use of certain management practices that can mitigate the negative impact on beef cattle are recommended.

For guidelines on sampling fields that will be grazed and on managing the grazing to reduce risk of toxicity please see the Producer Question on grazing cover crops from fall 2015.

For information regarding understanding and managing nitrate risk in cover crops please see the "Understanding and Managing Nitrate Risk in Double Crop Forages (Cover Crops)" video.

For in-depth information about nitrate toxicity and how to manage harvesting and feeding of forages see the "Nitrates in Livestock Feeding" NebGuide (PDF vesion).

Mary Drewnoski
Beef Systems Specialist
Nebraska Extension