Nitrates in Horse Hay


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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9 Responses

  1. Robynne Catheron says:

    Good article, thank you for sharing it. Does Ms Warren have any recommendations to the hay growers to help reduce the risk of high nitrates, and/or ensuring consistency in all mows and fields?

    • As the article explains: Nitrates can be present in high levels due to over fertilization or triggered by environmental stress such as drought, freeze or even cloudiness, where plant growth is restricted but absorption of nitrate from soil continues. Irrigation by water high in nitrates, run off from other water sources, certain herbicides and deficiencies of essential nutrients like phosphorus, sulfur and molybdenum can also contribute.

      Well balanced soils in regards to the major minerals; calcium, phosphorus and magnesium certainly reduces the risk and reduces the supplementation to balance the hay.

      The higher results I experienced were with Bermuda hay. Bermuda is a perennial grass, IOW those fields can be cut for years w/out a rotation of crops. Over fertilizing seems to be the majority of the culprit. The growers equate a higher yield to more fertilizer. This is not the case. Numerous studies have been done to prove this, more is NOT better! If the soil is not loamy allowing for proper drainage, the nitrogen can continue to build in the soil. Flood irrigating seems to be the worst. Here in Imperial Valley, the soil is more clay equating to retention of any additives to the soil.

      Also, some farmers will refrain from watering just prior to cutting to speed up the curing process. Drought conditions will drive the nitrates up.

      Happy to answer any other questions. Monique

    • Michele says:

      Nitrate Accumulating Plants

      Some plants are known accumulators of nitrates such as Fescue and Johnson grass, Barley, Flax, Sudan grass, Sorghum, Sugar beets, Soybean and Wheat. Non-accumulators include Bermuda, Rye, Fescue, and Orchard grasses. None though are immune to high levels of nitrates.

      Tell me what Fescue is….accumulator or non- accumulator?

    • Monique Warren says:

      It is helpful for the growers to test their hay and soil prior to fertilizing. Soil needs to be monitored on a continual basis. Especially with fields that are not crop rotated.

  2. Suzi Parr says:

    Is nitrate testing separate from the typical hay test? We’ve tested with Equi-Analytical labs and I don’t see nitrates on the standard results. The symptoms you listed above sure sound like the same that one of our horses experienced last winter. We’re not using that hay this year but are kind of wondering if we can figure out last year’s issue.

  3. Heidi says:

    I love your article. I also have been following this topic. They do not know the sub clinical symptoms. That is the frightening part. Cattle people dilute with grains, and vitamin A. I also use low doses of vitamin A, E, and C. We are in a drought here in California, and my horse’s started to have problems in August, 2013. The vitamin A , E, C, and plain salt helped a lot. They have linked Laminitis to Nitrite poisoning, which was the first symptom my horses got. Vitamin A really helps this. I only use the human pills of vitamin A in fish liver oil form, d-alpha vitamin E. My horses took care of the vitamin C, they started to eat oranges during this, smart guys!!!! Thanks for the info. I have my BS in Ag/Animal Science, and have also furthered my research over 25 years. If you have more data, I would love it.

  4. Karin says:

    Thank you for this information! Nothing I’ve ever heard about in Sweden. Now I understand that my pony has been nitrate poisoned in a bad way.

    Is there any hope of him ever getting better? Right now one single straw of grass get his feet sore. In your experience, will he stay this way or improve? He is no longer short of breath or have swollen eyes, but I feel it’s always “round the corner”.

    My hay has 4,72g/kg and from what I can understand it is the sames as Moniques was. He now gets a little bit hay, but mostly straw (barley, just the straw).

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