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Livestock grazing with caution during drought

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (1) – 8/2/21

Montana State University Extension educators are warning farmers of the dangers of livestock grazing on weeds. Weed growth that is high in nitrate toxicity has been overtaking many grazing fields due to drought conditions. Because these weeds are often green, livestock tend to gravitate toward them and may consume too much, leading to high levels of toxicity in the livestock. While they can safely graze on growth that contains less than 1,500 parts per million of nitrate, the MSU Extension office recently measured some weeds that contained 50,000 ppm of nitrate.

“The recommendation to the producer was to remove the cattle from the area of concern or fence off the reservoir to reduce the risk of cattle grazing the weeds,” Custer County Extension Agent Mike Schuldt told MSU News Service. “Nitrate concentrations at that level are concerning and nitrate toxicity symptoms and death can occur rapidly.”

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