It could be a bad year for nitrate poisoning of livestock. During a drought, high levels of nitrate can accumulate in forages. Excessive levels will poison many farm animals, causing them to suffocate. If it doesn't kill them it make cause them to abort, fail to rebreed and to not eat.
There are things you can do to prevent losses – you can ensile forages, chop corn plants high for silage and blend feedstocks. The most important thing is to test crops to make sure you know the nitrate content before you starting cut hay or chopping silage.
South Dakota State University Extension Service is holding Nitrate Quick Test Trainings sessions on May 19 and 22 at eight locations in South Dakota.
"It is well known that certain plants are nitrate accumulators and can contain toxic levels of nitrate when consumed by cattle and sheep," says Karla Hernandez, SDSU Extension forages field specialist. "Performing a Nitrate Quick Test will help producers to determine whether they have problems with nitrates and if they are in risk and how further proceed with laboratory analysis if they are needed."
If you were not trained to perform the Nitrate Quick Test in 2014, you will need to attend one of the 2-hour New Certification Trainings.
If you were trained in April 2014, you can attend one of the recertification sessions, which is 1 hour in length. Both the New Certification and Recertification will be offered twice to give more people an opportunity to participate.
The sessions will be held at the SDSU Extension Centers in Aberdeen, Lemmon, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown and Winner.
On May 19, all one-hour recertification classes will begin at 1 p.m. (MDT) and p.m. (CDT). On May 22 all one-hour recertification classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. (MDT) and 9:30 a.m. (CDT).
The two-hour new certification classes on May 19 will begin at 2 p.m. (MDT) and 3 p.m. (CDT). The two-hour new Certification classes on May 22 begin at 9:30 a.m. (MDT) 10:30 a.m. (CDT).
Pre-registration is required by May 13 to ensure each location has adequate supplies. Registration for the New Certification Training is $35. It will cover the supplies needed to do the testing, as well as the test solution. Recertification registration is $20 and is required on an annual basis. To register call 605-882-5140.
For details on nitrate poisoning and prevention measures, see Igrow.org.