Drought 2012 links: Drought-stressed corn contributes to cattle death in Wisconsin

More than 30 Wisconsin cows are dead after they consumed drought-stressed corn, Hay and Forage Grower has reported.

The deaths are thought be the result of nitrates that build up in drought-stressed corn. Typically, the nitrate flows up the plant and is converted to protein, aiding in growth. However, in drought conditions, the flow stops and nitrate builds up in the stalks. When cattle eat the corn, the nitrate converts to nitrite, which binds to red blood cells and prevents the transportation of oxygen through the blood, according to the article.

Many farmers are chopping down their drought-damaged corn crop and many are using it as feed to stave off using costlier alternatives.

The drought also creates prime conditions for aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mycotoxin produced by certain strains of the mold Aspergillus. Ingestion of excessive amounts of aflatoxin can cause chronic health problems such as interference with reproductive efficiency and immune suppression.

Parts of the U.S. are experiencing the worst drought since 1988, with about 60 percent of the country officially designated as being in drought. The USDA has declared disaster zones in 218 counties in 12 states dueto economic losses and damage caused by the hot and dry weather.

Economists also are expecting food prices to rise – about 3 to 4 percent in 2013 on top of an expected 3.5 percent for 2012, according to recent reports.

For tips on how to avoid nitrate poisoning in corn, read the full article from Hay and Forage Grower here.

Read additional drought-related articles below

Nitrate testing advised for drought-damaged corn –Iowa Farmer Today

Less rain for drought-hit crops in midday outlook – Chicago Tribune

Historic drought puts over half of U.S. counties in disaster zones, USDA says – CNN

For a list of drought-related Neogen blog posts, click here.

For a list of Neogen’s aflatoxin testing products, click here.

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