Key tips on feeding cottonseed to cattle, sheep

Don't feed cottonseed to young calves and lambs, says vet

Cottonseed is a useful livestock fodder but should not be fed to young calves and lambs because of its high oil content.

Cottonseed is a useful livestock fodder but should not be fed to young calves and lambs because of its high oil content.


Cottonseed is one drought feed still in good supply but it shouldn't be fed to young calves and lambs as well as pigs and horses.


Cottonseed should not be fed to non-ruminant animals such as horses or pigs, says Andrew Biddle, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services district veterinarian.

“Young calves and lambs should not be fed white cottonseed as their rumens are still developing,” he said.

“White cottonseed contains gossypol. Gossypol has been reported to affect the fertility of bulls. These trials were undertaken overseas some years ago.

“Newer varieties of cotton have less gossypol than older varieties. There have been no reported cases of infertility in bulls related to the feeding of cottonseed.

“If cottonseed is being fed out as a supplement animals also require dry standing feed or a roughage supply.

“Pregnant cows need seven to 10 kgs of cottonseed per week. This can be fed out twice weekly in piles to allow access for all animals in a mob.

“If feeding white cottonseed to sheep, a general recommendation is to limit the quantity to 10-20pc of the total dry matter intake provided. Weaner sheep older than five months will need 100 grams per head per day, dry sheep will need 150 gms per head per day, 200 gms per day for pregnant ewes and lactating ewes will need 300 gms per head per day.

“White cottonseed can be difficult to handle as it does not flow through augers easily. Equipment such as tipper trailers and tractors with buckets are required for large quantities or buckets and shovels for smaller quantities.

“ White cottonseed can be used as a component of a complete ration. Seek individual advice when formulating such rations.

“Add calcium at two pc by adding limestone by weight to the top of the load and letting it mix through.

“White cottonseed and de-linted cottonseed (black cottonseed) may contain residue of chemicals applied to the cotton crop during the growing season.

“Using cottonseed at levels above 30pc of the total dry matter intake could result in excessive residues in cattle.

“If you have fed cottonseed from crops treated with chemicals (all cotton would be in this category) to cattle within 60 days of sending them for sale/slaughter, then you must disclose this at question 7 of the National Vendor Declaration (Cattle),” Mr Biddle said.

  • For further information on using white cottonseed as a supplementary feed or for other animal nutrition, livestock health and welfare inquiries please contact Northern Tablelands Local Land Services on 02 6732 8800. Visit NSW DPI's DroughtHub for more useful information to help producers in dry conditions.

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