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Sampling tips:

Standing forage

  • Variability of Nitrate levels within a field can be very high

  • Cut at least 15 whole plants taken at random

  • Cut plants at the same height as the chopper

  • Chop plant to at least 1 inch lengths and mix well

  • Remove about 0.5lbs for testing


  • Collect several samples from the silo face or during unloading

  • Mix well and remove about 0.5 lbs for testing


  • Pasture is extremely difficult to sample because animals will selectively consume plants

  • If high nitrates are expected cautious management is recommended

  • Corn stubble can effectively be sampled by collecting 15-20 random samples from the field, chop to at least 1 inch lengths, mix thoroughly, and remove about 0.5 lbs for testing

* For fresh forages it is recommended to deliver samples directly to the lab, or freeze samples for 24 hours prior to shipping and ship in an insulated container.  Fresh forage in a sealed bag will begin to ferment which reduces the Nitrate level of the sample.


Allison, C.D., 2010. Nitrate Poisoning of Livestock. New Mexico State University Cooperative ExtensionService Guide B-807

Crowley, J.W. 1985. Effects of Nitrate on Livestock. American Society of Agricultural Engineers. PaperNumber 80-20026.

Faulkner and Hutjens. Nitrates in Livestock Feed. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Vough, Lester, Nitrate Poisoning of Livestock: Causes and Prevention. University of MarylandCooperative Extension Fact Sheet 426

Vough, et al. Nitrate Poisoning of Livestock: Causes and Prevention. South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service.

ExEx4015 Dairy Science.

Undersander, et al. Nitrate Poisoning in Cattle, Sheep, and Goats, University of Wisconsin Extension Service.


For more information call Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. at 608-323-2123 or contact us here.