Some parts of the country experienced below-average rainfall during the summer - a situation that can create drought-stressed forages.

"Many forage crops can accumulate potentially dangerous amounts of nitrates when stressed by drought," says Bill Mahannna, global nutritional sciences general manager with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

Harmful levels of nitrates can pose a health risk to livestock. To protect your cattle against nitrate toxicity, Mahanna suggests that you run a complete analysis on drought-stressed forages to determine their nitrate levels. Many forage testing and veterinary diagnostic laboratories perform nitrate tests. Results are often available within 24 hours.

"Analysis is always a good management practice, but it's even more critical in drought years," Mahanna adds.