Uruguay Land: Nitrates and Nitrites under Scrutiny.

Campos De Uruguay. Novillos. Nitratos.

Uruguay Land: Under the Shadow of Nitrates – Safeguarding Livestock from Intoxication

In the vast territory occupied by Uruguay’s fields, livestock farming and agribusiness play a pivotal role in the country’s economy and food supply. However, ensuring the safety and well-being of our livestock is crucial to maintaining a healthy and sustainable livestock production. In this post, we will focus on the recommendations provided by the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) to prevent nitrate intoxications, positioning our website as a reference for livestock care and proper pasture management.

Risk of Nitrate Intoxications in Uruguay’s Fields

Nitrate intoxications can occur in Uruguay’s fields after prolonged droughts and under specific conditions. It is essential to identify forages with high nitrate concentration and take preventive measures.

Identification and Laboratory Diagnosis

INIA provides us with tools to identify forages with high nitrate concentration. Conducting nitrate concentration analysis in the laboratory is the first step to make informed decisions and prevent intoxication in our livestock.

Field Diagnosis and Constant Monitoring

For a closer evaluation on the field, INIA suggests the use of rapid plant analysis kits. These tests provide immediate results and help us constantly monitor the risk of intoxication in our livestock.

Management and Preventive Practices

Proper management of pastures and forages is essential to avoid nitrite accumulation in the animals’ rumen. INIA offers preventive practices such as planned grazing and intelligent supplementation to ensure a balanced and safe diet for our livestock. Avoid allowing hungry animals to graze on such forages. Before grazing, provide sources of soluble carbohydrates such as corn, sorghum, or bran. It is recommended that more than 50% of the total diet consist of other safe foods, such as safe pastures, hay, silage, and supplements. Avoid grazing for 2 to 3 weeks after the application of nitrogen fertilizers, such as urea or ammonium phosphate.

Contributing to Sustainable Livestock Production

Responsible care of our livestock not only benefits productivity but also contributes to sustainable livestock production in Uruguay’s fields. Preventing nitrate intoxications is a key pillar for animal welfare and the success of agribusinesses.

Always Consult a Trusted Veterinarian

It is important to remember that, in case of any doubts or emergencies, we should seek the advice of a trusted veterinarian. Their expertise and knowledge in livestock care will be fundamental to maintaining the health and safety of our animals.

Diego Sotelo, Director of Technology Transfer and Communication at INIA, warns about the seriousness of the situation, informing that recently, 95 grazing cows in a dairy farm in San José died due to this cause. These cows included 90 dry cows and 5 in production. Sotelo urges us to pay attention to the technical recommendations issued by INIA to avoid further losses. Symptoms observed in affected animals include difficulty breathing (rapid and labored breathing), lack of coordination while walking, tremors, frequent urination, and a change in the color of the mucous membranes from pink to grayish or brownish.

What to do if symptoms of intoxication occur?

Administer a slow intravenous solution of 1% methylene blue at a dose of 1 to 2 mg/kg of body weight or a sodium hyposulphite intravenous solution, after consulting a trusted veterinarian.


Following INIA’s recommendations and consulting a trusted veterinarian are key actions to prevent nitrate intoxications and ensure the health and well-being of livestock in Uruguay’s fields. Responsible livestock care contributes to sustainable livestock production.

Source: Fact Sheet 71 from INIA http://www.inia.uy/Publicaciones/Documentos%20com

Friday June 30th, 2023 | Por Arrospide