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What The Research Says About Feeding Cottonseed to Cattle

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From logistics and economics to composition and palatability, there are many factors to consider when choosing feed ingredients for your cattle rations. Fortunately, scholars and researchers across the nation have spent time designing trials and providing findings to help you determine the right choices for your operation. Take a look at these trial overviews to see what the research has to say about feeding whole cottonseed to cattle.

New Study Finds Whole Cottonseed is a Valuable Option for Feedlots1

In many key beef cattle states throughout the southwestern U.S., cotton byproducts are readily and economically available. This study, conducted by a team at Oklahoma State University and the University of Arkansas, looked at the effects of including whole cottonseed (WCS) and cotton gin trash (CGT) in the finishing diets of feedlot beef cattle.

Upon evaluation of results and performance indicators, the research team concluded that WCS and CGT can effectively be used as the primary protein, fat and fiber sources in finishing diets without causing adverse effects on growth performance, feed efficiency, carcass characteristics or ruminal degradability. In fact, cattle on the cotton-based diet demonstrated higher dry matter intake, average daily gain, final body weights and fat thickness. There were no notable differences in gain to feed ratio, marbling or ribeye area.

Effects of Feeding Whole Cottonseed on Composition of Milk2

Whole cottonseed is a popular choice for dairy rations because it has a unique triple-nutrient composition containing protein, available fat and effective fiber.3 In this study conducted at the University of California, Davis, effects on milk properties were compared among four different diets: 0, 10, 15 and 20% whole cottonseed.

After 21 days of the feeding program, results indicated an increase in milk fat content with inclusion of WCS in the diet and was higher for all diets containing WCS compared to the control group, which included no WCS. Total solids and yields of fat-corrected milk also increased, while overall milk yields were not affected. The results did indicate decreased proportions of short-chain fatty acids and increased stearic and oleic acids.

Comparison of Whole Cottonseed, Extruded Soybeans or Whole Sunflower Seeds for Lactating Dairy Cows4

Two 37-day feeding trials were conducted with 21 Holstein cows to determine differences in milk production and composition, feed intake and digestibility, efficiency of feed utilization and body weight when WCS, extruded soybeans or whole sunflower seeds were included in the ration.

Overall, it was found that cows on the whole cottonseed diet produced milk most efficiently. However, feed intake was highest for the extruded soybean diet, and there were no differences in dry matter digestibility or body weight among the three groups. The whole sunflower seed diet yielded the lowest levels of milk yield, fat-corrected milk, fat, protein and solids-not-fat, providing the conclusion that the whole sunflower seed diet is not as satisfactory for lactating dairy cows as the whole cottonseed or extruded soybean diets were.

The Effect of Oilseeds in Diets of Lactating Cows on Milk Production and Methane Emissions5

In this Washington State University study, 36 lactating multiparous Holstein cows received diets containing either 2.3, 4.0 or 5.6% fat for an entire lactation to determine the effect of oilseeds on milk composition, production and methane emissions. The oilseed portion of each diet was equal parts WCS and canola oilseeds.

The study found that although diets with oilseeds did not affect methane emissions, they did tend to increase the efficiency of milk produced per unit of methane emitted. While using unsaturated fats from oilseeds may not substantially reduce methane emission rates directly, this study provides evidence of increased milk yields with an interestingly low impact on methane emissions.

Whole Cottonseed On Your Operation

These studies outline several key advantages of providing WCS for your cattle, but it doesn’t stop there. Check out these benefits of feeding WCS and find a reputable supplier near you on Cottonseed Marketplace.


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