Unlocking the Potential: The Flexibility of Beef Cattle and Feed Ingredients
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By: Terry Quam, beef producer at Margda Angus Farm
As a beef cattle producer, you know just how crucial proper nutrition is for the health and productivity of your herd. Over the years, you’ve explored various feed ingredients from candy, beets, carrots to anything palatable, seeking the best options to enhance your cattle’s performance. However, one ingredient stands out with its high levels of protein, fat and fiber1: whole cottonseed, or what I like to call the cotton candy of feedstuffs.
The Role and Flexibility of Feed Ingredients in Beef Cattle Nutrition
Beef cattle possess remarkable adaptability to different feeding practices.2 The foundation of optimal beef cattle nutrition is a well-balanced diet that provides essential nutrients for growth, reproduction and maintenance. A typical beef cattle diet includes forages, grains and protein sources, which must be carefully balanced to meet the specific needs of animals at different stages of their life cycle.
One of the greatest things about beef cows is they’re so flexible in what they can eat, no matter if they are nursing or in gestation.3 The way I feed my herd rarely stays the same year over year as I’m always exploring cost-effective feed ingredients to support the growing needs of my cattle.
It’s vital to understand that a well-balanced diet is the foundation of your cattle’s success. The right combination of nutrients supports their growth, reproduction and immune function.4 Your expertise in choosing the right feed ingredients is essential in ensuring the overall well-being of your herd.
Whole Cottonseed: A Nutrient-Rich Powerhouse
One feed ingredient that has gained considerable attention in recent years for its impressive nutritional value is whole cottonseed. This unique feed ingredient offers a blend of essential nutrients, making it an excellent addition to beef cattle diets.
- Protein content: Whole cottonseed has high protein content at approximately 23% crude protein5. This is essential for muscle development, immune function and overall growth.5
- Fiber: Fiber is a crucial component in beef cattle diets, aiding in proper rumen function and digestion. Whole cottonseed provides 24% crude fiber, promoting a healthy digestive system and preventing digestive disturbances.5
- Fat: Cottonseed is a great source of fat, typically containing 20% crude fat.5 Fat is important, especially during cold weather or stressful periods, because it provides a readily available energy source.5
- Palatability: Apart from its rich nutrient profile, whole cottonseed can be palatable. When introduced as a new feed, it can be top dressed with molasses or other palatable feed to entice the cattle.6 This characteristic encourages consistent intake and ensures that the animals receive the essential nutrients they require.
Feed Prices and Viability of Whole Cottonseed
As any beef cattle producer can attest, feed prices and availability can significantly impact the overall operation’s profitability and success. In recent years, the feed market has experienced fluctuations due to various factors such as weather conditions, crop yields and global demand. As a result, many producers, including myself, had to remain vigilant and adaptable in managing herd nutrition while also considering the budget constraints.
While experiencing feed price fluctuations, whole cottonseed has proven to be a cost-effective and readily available solution for beef herds, especially in cotton-growing states. Its unique nutrient profile has allowed me to optimize my herd’s nutrition without compromising budget. The Cottonseed Marketplace allows buyers and sellers of whole cottonseed to connect, allowing producers to decide which supplier best meets their contracting needs. I’ve found the Cottonseed Marketplace to be a tool that’s easy to use, accessible to anyone around the country and provides flexibility to choose where your whole cottonseed comes from.
Incorporating Whole Cottonseed Into Beef Cattle Diets
The flexibility of beef cattle in adapting to diverse feed ingredients is a valuable asset for livestock producers. Among the range of feed options available, whole cottonseed stands out as an exceptional product, offering a blend of protein, fiber and fat essential for the health and productivity of beef cattle.1
By incorporating whole cottonseed strategically into beef cattle diets, producers and nutritionists can unlock the full potential of their herds by promoting growth, reproduction and overall well-being. Understanding the nutritional benefits of whole cottonseed and its role in balanced rations is a significant step toward maximizing beef cattle performance and ensuring a thriving livestock operation.
Reach out to your nutritionist about incorporating whole cottonseed into your beef cattle ration or visit wholecottonseed.com to learn more.
1 Kellogg, D.W., Pennington, J.A., Johnson, Z.B. and Panivivat, R. (2001). Survey of management practices used for the highest producing DHI herds in the United States. J. Dairy. Sci. Vol. 84, Supplement, E120– E127. Available at: doi:10.3168/-jds.S0022-0302(01)70206–8. Accessed July 18, 2023.
2 Brown, M.S., Ponce, C.H., Pulikanti, R. (2006). Adaption of beef cattle to high-concentrated diets: performance and ruminal metabolism. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16582090/. Accessed July 19, 2023.
3 Astigarraga, L., Ingrand, S. (2011). Production Flexibility in Extensive Beef Farming Systems. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/26268870. Accessed July 19, 2023.
4 Comerford, J.W. (2014). Added fat in the ration of beef cows to enhance reproduction. Pennsylvania State University. Available at: https://extension.psu.edu/added-fat-in-the-ration-of-beef-cows-to-enhance-reproduction. Accessed July 18, 2023.
5 National Research Council (2001). Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle: Seventh Revised Edition, 2001. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.17226/9825. Accessed July 18, 2023.
6 Myer, R.O., Hersom, M.J. (2018). Whole Cottonseed for Beef Cattle Rations. Available at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/AN134. Accessed July 20, 2023.