Nitrate Toxicity in Livestock

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.

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. Burning, or burying that forage may be the only safe alternative. Knowledge of the following livestock factors will aid in a producers decision on how to either prevent or manage the effect of high nitrate feed sources.

These are just two excerpt from an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet. You may read the complete fact sheet.

 

Johnsongrass Merits the Concern of Livestock Producers

MT VERNON, Mo. — The last two or three years, inquiries about johnsongrass risks in pastures and hay fields have been increasing in southwest Missouri according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

"Favorable growing conditions have resulted in johnsongrass spreading at a rapid rate," said Cole. "Johnsongrass has been on the Missouri noxious weed list as long as I can remember.
According to Cole, johnsongrass is more of a concern for row crop farmers. However, effective herbicides help row crop farmers hold it in check.

"We have cautioned livestock owners for years of the risks associated with the forage, whether grazed or put up as hay," said Cole.
Those risks are prussic acid or cyanide poisoning and nitrate. Each may result in animal death if not caught in the early stages.

"In reality, we've not seen or heard of very many positively diagnosed instances of cattle death from johnsongrass as farmers have learned to manage it," said Cole.
According to Cole, cattle seem to like it, especially when grazed in a tender, palatable leafy stage of growth.

What are some management tips that lessen the risks associated with livestock grazing on johnsongrass? From a grazing standpoint, Cole says to wait until johnsongrass is 18 to 24 inches tall. The prussic acid risk is greatest under that height when naive cattle are hungry and are turned into a pasture with a good bit of johnsongrass in it.

"If you allow cattle to graze johnsongrass as it grows from early spring, they seldom have problems. Drought stress may favor a prussic acid risk," said Cole. "We do caution about grazing it around frost time in the fall. The tall material isn't risky, but the new sprouts could be."

Under grazing situations, if livestock producers want to be less risky when turning into a johnsongrass field, only turn one or two lower value animals in as monitors.

"If they're still alive after 30 to 45 minutes, the grass is probably safe for the rest of the herd. It might also be of value to have your veterinarian on speed-dial at turn-in time. If caught quickly, they may save the animal," said Cole.

The prussic acid concern is rarely a problem with hay as it leaves the plant soon after it is cut.
"There is not a reliable field test that is widely used by extension specialists, but some veterinary clinics may use a test kit, but it needs to be done where the johnsongrass is at," said Cole.

Feeds other than johnsongrass — such as shattercane, sorghum-sudans, wild black cherry trees and sorghums — all may have the ability to cause prussic acid poisoning. Cattle, sheep, and goats seem more susceptible. It is rarely seen in hogs or horses.

Johnsongrass can accumulate nitrates, especially during drought and when high amounts of commercial fertilizer or animal manure are applied. MU Extension offices and forage testing labs can check plants for that risk.

Unfortunately, nitrates do not reduce in quantity in dry hay whether it is johnsongrass, sudans, sorghum-sudans and some other forages. Nitrates can be lethal but probably are more likely to reduce milk production, cause abortions and lower growth rate.

"Veterinarians can more accurately diagnose nitrate poisoning than prussic acid death. The blood will be a chocolate brown whereas prussic acid poisoning blood will be a bright cherry red. If large amounts of nitrate containing forage are eaten, death can occur in a few minutes," said Cole.

For more information on this topic contact Eldon Cole in Lawrence County, (417) 466-3102 or any of these MU Extension agronomy specialists in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, (417) 357-6812; Jill Scheidt in Barton County, (417) 682-3579 and Sarah Kenyon in Howell County, (417) 256-2391.

2017 Farm Labor Guide is now available

Farm Labor Guide

MU Extnsion Guide Offers help on hiring and keeping employees

Source: Joe Horner, 573-882-9339

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Extension recently released its 2017 Farm Labor Guide.

Finding and keeping dependable workers is one of the largest challenges today for farm owners and managers, says MU Extension agricultural economist Joe Horner. “As farms grow in size, learning to recruit, manage and retain high-quality employees becomes even more critical.”

The free online publication is MU Extension’s response to farmers’ requests for a simple, Missouri-specific guide to navigating the complexities of human resources management, Horner says.

The guide is available as a downloadable PDF file at agebb.missouri.edu/commag/farmlabor.

Horner, MU Extension agricultural economist Ryan Milhollin and agribusiness consultant Alice Roach created the guide to help employers make decisions that lead to a quality workforce and satisfied employees.

The guide divides the employment process into six segments: recruitment; hiring; onboarding, training and mentoring; operations; retention; and termination.

Horner says the guide gives a systematic list to identify and hire suitable employees. The guide covers safety, employee compensation and other human resources protocols.

Horner says it is important to decide on the needs of the operation before the employee search begins. Does the farm or business need full-time or part-time help? What are the hours that the employee is needed? Is the work seasonal or year-round?

After the employer makes these decisions, Horner recommends creating a formal job description. This helps job seekers decide if they qualify for a job or have an interest. It also helps the employer track whether applicants qualify, need training and if goals are met after the hire. It sets expectations of the employee’s role and relationships with coworkers, vendors and others.

The guide outlines six steps to writing a job description and tells where to publicize job postings for best results. It also offers advice on interviewing, including a list of acceptable and unacceptable questions, and general work rules such as overtime.

The guide discusses subjects such as background, drug and reference checks, as well as needed paperwork, taxes and employment laws. It follows through with options for training and mentoring.

The guide lists numerous free online resources to recruitment and hiring from extension specialists across the country.

 

MU Extension and partners grow knowledge among Hmong farmers

Fue Yang, left, and family operate the Year-Round Growing Education Center. Among those working with Yang: (back row) MU Extension horticulture specialist Patrick Byers, Lincoln University farm outreach worker David Middleton and MU Extension horticulture specialist Robert Balek; (front row) LU small farm specialist Nahshon Bishop, mentor Hector Troy, Webb City Farmers Market manager Eileen Nichols and LU outreach worker Randy Garrett.

Fue Yang’s proficiency in English allows him to learn from MU and LU Extension specialists. Being bilingual allows him to teach other Hmong farmers who previously could not understand workshops taught by MU and LU faculty.

Read the full article.

 

Fifth-generation rancher becomes MU Extension beef nutrition specialist

Source: Eric Bailey, 573-884-7873

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Fifth-generation rancher Eric Bailey joins University of Missouri Extension as state beef nutrition specialist.

He came to Mizzou for “its desire to innovate and be leaders in the next generation of beef producers.” He will work with specialists on beef cattle nutrition. He plans to meet beef farmers and leaders across the state.

A native of Santa Rosa, N.M., Bailey grew up about 7 miles from where his great-great-grandfather homesteaded. The family ranched on 65,000 acres that get 12 inches of rain per year. Cows graze 365 days, and each cow needs 55 acres.

His father recently retired as foreman of Singleton Ranches, one of the country’s top ranches in size and cows. It covers more than a million acres in New Mexico and California.

Before 2000, his grandfather was Singleton’s general manager.

“I don’t know anything but agriculture and beef cattle,” Bailey said.

He received a bachelor’s in animal science from West Texas A&M in 2007. We went to graduate school at Kansas State University, where he was named Larry H. Corah Outstanding Ph.D. student in 2013. His emphasis was beef cattle nutrition.

After earning his doctorate, Bailey returned to his alma mater, joining the West Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Sciences in 2013 as Endowed Chair of Cow-Calf Nutrition.

He belongs to the American Society of Animal Science and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

At Mizzou, Bailey intends to research strategies to reduce input costs for cow-calf operations through improved grazing management and use of purchased and raised feedstuffs.

In his spare time, Bailey trains quarter horses and plays golf. He plans to be an ardent supporter of Mizzou football and basketball.

He lives in Columbia with two horses, a stock dog and a companion dog.

Reach Bailey at baileyeric@missouri.edu or 573-884-7873.

Photos available for this release:

Link: http://extensiondata.missouri.edu/NewsAdmin/Photos/people/eric_bailey.jpg
Cutline: Eric Bailey, state beef nutrition specialist.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Rob Kallenbach