Nitrates and Purchased Hay


Nitrates are a normal part of forages. When they accumulate to too high a level in the forage they can become toxic. The disease nitrates cause is called nitrate poisoning. Nitrates found in forages are normally converted by the digestive system to nitrite, and the nitrite is converted to ammonia. The ammonia is then converted to protein by the bacteria in the rumen.


Quick Facts

  • Any purchased hay should be tested for nitrates.
  • The losses of animals from nitrates don’t stop at one. Several may die before symptoms are recognized.
  • Nitrite is 10 times more toxic to cattle as nitrate.
  • Nitrate poisonings often occur with the feeding of Sudan or sorghum – Sudan hybrid or pearl millet feeds.