Nitrate poisoning in cattle. 7. Prevention.


  • J.H. Geurink
  • A. Malestein
  • A. Kemp
  • A. Korzeniowski
  • A.T. van't Klooster



Results are summarized from 44 feeding trials with dry or lactating cows fed hay, pre-wilted grass silage or freshly mown grass with or without concentrates. As nitrate content of the forage increased, the moment at which the highest methaemoglobin (MHb) concentration occurred was delayed. As the MHb peak increased, more time was required to reduce MHb to normal values of 2-3%. Dry matter (DM) intake varied with type of forage. Consumption of 1.1 kg DM/100 kg bodyweight required 2 hours with hay or silage and 3.5 h with fresh grass. The relationship between nitrate intake and the formation of MHb in the blood was used to calculate the amount of forage that may be consumed per meal without causing symptoms of nitrate poisoning. Hay and pre-wilted silage with a nitrate content of up to 0.75% in the DM may be given ad lib. Indoor feeding of freshly mown grass with a nitrate content of up to 1.5% may also be given with restriction. Under grazing conditions, grass with a nitrate content of 2% in DM was safe without restriction. Nitrate poisoning may also be prevented by inhibiting nitrate reduction in the rumen by a daily dose of tungsten (wolfram). However, all potential hazards of this prophylactic treatment need to be examined before its use under practical conditions can be recommended. (Abstract retrieved from CAB Abstracts by CABI’s permission)