Nitrate Toxicity in Cereal Forages for Rabbits

Asked October 16, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

Greetings, I've had house pet rabbits for 16 years in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR and usually feed timothy hay, oat hay or orchard grass, primarily first or second cutting of timothy hay, and was recently introduced to barley Haybet by a local horse boarder who gets it from eastern Oregon. His horses love it, and horses and rabbits have similar digestive tracts. From our research and others' experiences, it sounds like there's many positives to barley Haybet. I also found the below article from 2011 (however the author's email is discontinued) and I'm writing for further explanation on Nitrate Toxicity in Cereal Forages. Is it still current research to date in 2015 and do you think smaller creatures such as rabbits would be more prone to it then horses? I'm also a volunteer with a local rabbit group of 100 people and would like to pass on this education. Thank you for any insights you can provide. All the very best, Ms. Dawn Iveane-Curell 503-827-6885

Clark County Washington

1 Response


I have links to a few articles, one says there are not documented cases of nitrate toxicity in rabbits, another has a table for what levels might be toxic to animals in general.

You might want to contact Gary Fredricks, my colleague in Cowlitz county who has a background in animal science., (360) 577-3014 ext 3 Rabbit production 2013 says no documented nitrate poisoning in rabbits Table 3, page 3 lists general guidelines for nitrate (NO3-N and NO3) in parts per million. So if you tested the feed, you could perhaps use this as a general guideline. appendix F, page 18, but this refers to packaged chow for rabbits


ouglas M. Stienbarger

County Director

Faculty, Community & Economic Development

WSU Clark County Extension

1919 NE 78th Street

Vancouver, WA 98665