Grazing cotton crop residue to reduce winter supplementation cost in late-gestation beef cows and assessment of the negative effects of gossypol on fermentation of mixed ruminal microorganisms

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Authors: D. B. Davis, S. R. Hernandez, H. M. Johnson, T. R. Callaway, and R. L. Stewart Jr.,1 PAS
Department of Animal and Dairy Science, The University of Georgia, Athens 30605

1 Corresponding author: [email protected]

Year Published: 2022


Objective: This research aimed to evaluate the use of standing cotton crop residue as a winter supplementation source for gestating beef cows and the effects of gossypol, a naturally occurring pigment with potential anti-quality characteristics, on in vitro mixed ruminal microorganism fermentations.

Materials and Methods: Experiment 1 used a 3-yr completely randomized study with 108 Angus cross cows (BW 559 ± 7.9 kg) enrolled in a 30-d grazing trial. Cows were weighed, stratified by weight, and randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments: dormant bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) pasture + bermudagrass hay (GR) or cotton (Gossypium) crop residue + bermudagrass hay (CT). Experiment 2 used a completely randomized in vitro mixed ruminal microorganism fermentation with 3 × 5 factorial arrangements of treatments. This included 3 substrates: corn (Zea mays; CC), average relative forage quality (RFQ 100) coastal bermudagrass (ABG), and high relative forage quality (RFQ 120) coastal bermudagrass (HBG), along with 5 concentrations of gossypol: 0, 0.0615, 0.123, 0.1845, or 0.246 mg of gossypol/mL.

Results and Discussion: Total hay offered and hay per head per day were greater (P ≤ 0.02) in the GR group compared with the CT group. Economic analysis indicated that total hay cost, cost per head per day, and cost of gain were all significantly decreased for cows in the CT treatment compared with cows in the GR treatment (P < 0.002). In vitro DM digestibility and total VFA production were lower (P < 0.002) as gossypol concentration reached the highest concentration.

Implications and Applications: Results suggest that grazing cotton crop residue is a partial replacement for hay supplementation during the winter months. Increased levels of gossypol have negative effects on DM disappearance and VFA production. The gossypol amount found in crop residue is approximately the same as the lowest concentration evaluated in the in vitro experiment. These results indicate that grazing cotton crop residue should not influence ruminal fermentation.

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