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Extra profit from the breeding herd can be achieved by feeding one or two pounds per day of cottonseed cake or meal. Mature warm season grasses in late summer, and dormant grasses, conserved forages, and crop residue in the winter are often lower in protein than is necessary for high reproductive performance and milk yield. The extra protein from cottonseed cake or meal supplements can increase intake and digestibility of low quality forages, keeping brood cows in good body condition for producing healthier, heavier calves.


Feeding up to one pound of cottonseed meal per day to spring born foraging beef calves, from midsummer to fall, has been shown to profitably increase weaning weights. If cow milk yield is low and/or pasture quality is poor, a calf will not be able to reach its genetic capability. Grain based supplements, requiring several pounds of feed per pound of additional gain, are often too expensive and can suppress forage intake and digestibility. However, a 38% or higher protein supplement based on cottonseed meal and fed in a self limited creep (10-15% salt) can make those calves get more economical gains from summer grasses.

Just a couple of pounds of cottonseed cake or meal per day can result in heavier stockers at marketing time. Young, growing cattle require a high level of protein for good gains on grass. Mature summer forages and even lush cool season pastures can at times lack the quantity or quality of protein required to build muscle and frame in rapidly growing calves. Supplementation with 41% cottonseed cake or meal to make up that deficiency can enhance the economical gains made by stockers.


Whether feeding replacements for breeding or feedlot cattle for slaughter, cottonseed meal and hulls are important ration components. Cottonseed meal fits well into these diets as an economical source of palatable, natural protein. Cottonseed meal protein provides for muscle and bone growth desired in replacements without the problem of overfattening.

Cottonseed hulls are an excellent source of palatable, high quality fiber requiring no further processing. When starting calves on feed, cottonseed hulls and meal insure adequate intake and rumen function during this critical period and throughout the feeding cycle.

A Systematic Approach To Supplementation

Supplemental feeding throughout the beef production cycle is simply furnishing those nutrients which are not provided by forage or feasibly obtained from nutrients stored in the animal's body. Supplementing cows and calves, as needed, with minerals first, then vitamins, then protein, then energy offers the opportunity for the highest return per dollar invested in supplements.

Follow these four steps:

1. Minerals- If minerals are not included in a supplement already being fed, offer free choice minerals to meet the cattle's needs.

2. Vitamins- If cattle are on dry or dormant pasture for more than 4 to 6 months, feed or inject vitamin A.

3. Protein- Feed small amounts of protein to cows if forage protein falls below 6 to 8%. Be aware of growing calves' high protein requirement and supplement if forage protein does not supply their complete needs.

4. Energy- Use grain, hay and other energy feeds when forage is inadequate or when low condition scores warrant it. Remember that energy supplementation requires more pounds of feed per pound of extra gain and can possibly decrease forage intake and digestibility.

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