Extreme weather events, such as this year’s drought, can cause a build up of nitrogen in common forage plants. While herds are commonly pasture grazing this time of year, too many nitrates in grasses can harm cattle, and are especially damaging to fetuses in pregnant cows. Producers can prevent the overingestion of nitrates among all cattle through these practices:

• Not letting cattle graze stems too close to the ground. Keep forage focused only on leaves and upper stalks.
• Avoid overcrowding pastures. Cattle can’t be as choosy on high-density rangeland, where competition could mean more aggressive grazing patterns and higher intake of nitrates.
• Complete pregnancy checks later in the fall during drought conditions, to monitor pregnant females

Read more on managing nitrate levels in drought-stressed pastures.