crops may often be salvaged, but testing for nutritional value
and harmful substances is extremely important. Nitrate toxicity
and aflatoxins may be a problem in drought years. Depending
on test results, feed amounts need to be adjusted for animal
nutrition and safety.
Forage Versus Silage
show signs of drought stress, be careful about using them
as fresh forage because nitrate levels may be high. A better
option is to use plants as silage, because the silage fermentation
process reduces nitrate levels. In either case, testing is
critical for safe feeding.
of nitrate poisoning in livestock include labored breathing,
frothing at the mouth and a brownish color of the nonpigmented
skin within a few hours after feeding. Abortions can occur;
death may occur within an hour in extreme cases.
should be stored at least three weeks before testing and
feeding take place.
is available from private companies and state universities.
Contact your county Extension agent for a list of laboratories.
both a nutritional analysis and nitrate test completed on
crops. Results will take longer for nitrate tests.
results will help you determine safe feeding amounts, as
well as the need for grain and protein supplements.
Barley and Corn
drought-stressed oats and barley for nutritional value.
They often are reduced to empty hulls or a very light
grain. The result is low energy and protein and a limited
feeding value for poultry and swine. Oats and barley may
work well in combination with beef and other livestock feeds.
with your livestock nutritionist or agricultural agent about
corn use. Corn quality usually is not a concern during
drought; corn kernels may be smaller, but feeding value
is not affected to the same degree as for oats and barley.
Ear corn, however, may be lower in nutritional value due
to a higher cob to kernel ratio.
for aflatoxins in grain fields. The fungus, Asperilla
flavus, and certain other molds may produce toxic substances
in the field and in storage. They historically have been
a problem in southern states where severe drought and high
temperatures more commonly are experienced. Contact your
county agricultural agent for a list of qualified laboratories.
Your county agricultural agent
"Managing Drought-Stressed Corn and Soybeans," (NCR238);
"Protect Livestock From Nitrate Poisoning," (A1889);
"Feeding the Dairy Herd," (NCR346).
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.