The Effects Of Nitrogen On The Dairy Industry

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Nitrogen is one of the main biogeochemical elements, around which a cycle supports life on Earth. Nitrogen can be found in many forms, one of which is nitrite, a toxic chemical that can produce severe abnormalities in animals (Binta and Mushi, 2012). Nitrite is formed from nitrate by micro-organisms and bacteria present in soil, water, saliva, and the large intestine of most animals. These micro-organisms are present in high amounts in ruminants such as cows, which poses serious implications on the dairy industry as nitrite poisoning, if nitrate levels are not closely monitored, can lead to the death of large numbers of livestock as well as birth defects in calves. In ruminants, nitrate is reduced to nitrite, and the rumen microbes utilize this nitrite by converting it into ammonia as a nitrogenous source important in DNA production and synthesis of amino acids (Robson, 2007). Though, when levels of nitrogen rise in excess, nitrite accumulates in rumen, and is then rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, then reacting with the ferrous form of haemoglobin to form met-haemoglobin (met-Hb) (Sidhu et al., 2011). This is a serious issue as met-Hb is a poor transporter of oxygen and the animal suffers from oxygen deficiency. Nitrite poisoning has become more common over the past century as application of nitrogen fertilizer to farmland improves both quality and yield of milk produced by cattle (Sidhu et al., 2011). Nitrogen increases the levels of crude protein in forage, which
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