Whole Cottonseed
    Many cattle producers have used whole cottonseed as a supplement for beef cattle for many years.  This year may be a good year to revisit whole cottonseed if you have reduced your usage as a result of itís cost.  Cottonseed contains abundant amounts of energy and is also a very good source of protein.  It will typically contain greater than 90% TDN and approximately 24% crude protein.  The limiting factor for its use in beef cattle diets is the fat content, which is approximately 20%.  In general, mature cows can be fed 6 to 8 pounds per day while replacement heifers and stocker steers should be limited to about 4 to5 pounds per day.  For most of the hay produced in Alabama, daily supplementation with 7 pounds of whole cottonseed would provide adequate energy and protein to a lactating cow.  The seed should be fed in bunks or troughs; however, it can be fed on clean sod on a daily or every other day basis.  Whole cottonseed also can be offered in feeders containing a 3 to 4 day supply at a time.  Once cattle are adapted to whole cottonseed the fat content becomes an intake limiter.  Note.  It should not be fed in self feeders with a V-shape because the fuzzy seed will bridge and cattle will not have continual access to the feed.  For this same reason, cottonseed will need to be stored in a covered shed or feed bay and not in feed bins.  Fuzzy seed will not auger or gravity-flow very well.  Seed is generally handled with front-end loaders or by hand.
    Whole cottonseed is low in calcium content and thus the mineral being fed should contain adequate quantities of calcium.  Cottonseed contains a toxic compound called gossypol.  In general, gossypol causes male infertility problems, thus there has been some concern for feeding bulls whole cottonseed.  The scientific literature contains many studies on this topic and the results are mixed.  Based on a Texas A&M study, it appears that there are two isomers of gossypol and one is toxic while the other possesses very little activity.  Upland cotton appears to contain less of the toxic isomer than does Pima cotton and in the southeast most of the cotton is of the Upland type.  Thus in Alabama, bull infertility as a result of cottonseed consumption appears to be a minor problem.
    As with most supplements, start the cattle out with small amounts and gradually work up to the desired level of supplementation over a period of 7 to 10 days.