Cotton has been of great essence in the development of the agricultural sector world. In fact, it has provided humans with a variety of products for over 200 years. The technological improvement in the growing and harvesting processes enabled extraction of cottonseed for use as animal feed among other developments. Currently, cottonseed accounts for approximately 18% of a farmer’s income. Cottonseed meal feed has been exceptionally welcomed by farmers seeking more affordable feed resources for livestock. The most important aspect that farmers have to be knowledgeable about is the nutritional value of cottonseed meal. This allows for the provision of relevant supplementary feed and appropriate feed rations. An overdose or inadequacy of various nutrients can be detrimental to animal health, which in turn has adverse effects on productivity resulting in a failed agricultural venture.

Nutritional Value of Cottonseed Meal

Cottonseed meal is the by-product of oil extraction from cottonseeds. As a protein-rich feed, cottonseed meal is a common source of protein for livestock, notably in cotton-producing areas where the ingredient in relatively cheap. The superior protein, energy and fibre content of whole cottonseed has resulted in its popularity as a staple feed in animal rations. As a matter of fact, the uptake of cottonseed meal has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Despite its bulky nature and lack of convenience in handling, cottonseed meal is a highly famed source of nutrients. It is characterised by high content of approximately 30 to 50% dry matter as well as a balanced concentration of amino acids.  Other nutrients found in cottonseed meal feed include calcium, phosphorus, crude fibre and fat. It is a highly palatable feed and so is readily consumed by animals. Cottonseed meal should be provided in limited amount as excess feed may be harmful to livestock. This is due to gossypol present which causes an illness known as gossypol toxicity. Gossypol is a polyphenolic compound reducing protein digestibility by inhibition of pepsin and trypsin activity in the intestine and binding iron in the diet. As such, increased levels of cottonseed meal leads to poor health, growth performance and limited productivity. Dietary treatments including improved iron and lysine supplementation can increase the usefulness of the meal in livestock nutrition by alleviating the toxic effect of gossypol.

Cottonseed Meal Feed for Physiological Development

Cottonseed meal feed has a high protein composition therefore is considered as an affordable nutrient source in comparison to soybean meal. Its high protein content is essential in the facilitation of livestock physical development. Livestock that feed on cottonseed meal feed are generally known to perform better that those lacking protein rich feeds. Various agricultural studies have been conducted on the effects on cottonseed meal feed for livestock. The results concur that livestock performance is improved while production costs are diminished providing farmers with increased profits. It is advisable to maintain cottonseed meal feed at about 10 to 20% of the overall feed due to gossypol which can cause the opposite effect. Provision of this ingredient within the recommended quantities allows for improved digestibility of protein and fibre, average daily gain as well as feed conversion ratio. The results are early maturing livestock with superior productivity. As earlier mentioned, some farmers opt for cottonseed meal feed instead of soybean meal feed. This practise is advisable as feed containing crude protein of about 46% can be administered without detrimental effects to carcass characteristics or meat quality. If done appropriately, finishing performance is expected to improve.

Cottonseed Meal Feed for Milk Production

Lactating animals require dietary plans sufficient in protein and calcium to achieve maximum milk production. Cottonseed meal feed contains sufficient levels of protein, calcium and energy among other nutrients necessary for productivity. Livestock with a protein rich dietary plan tend to produce more milk which is of superior quality. This is true for animals that are given cottonseed meal feed. Increasing levels of the feed significantly improves milk yield, particularly for dairy cattle. An important factor to keep in mind is that rations fifer across species, breed and maturity.  It is advisable to provide dairy cows with cottonseed feed meal rations that do not exceed 4kg level of supplementation. Research carried out on the effects of excess feed amounting to approximately 5kg indicated decreased energy intake from 1.25 to 0.88% live weight thereby affecting productivity. To add on, cottonseed meal feed provided as a single source of protein in order to achieve high levels of milk production often fails. The toxicity of gossypol is instead increased thereby negatively impacting production of milk. A popular myth among farmers is that this toxic compound is not harmful to ruminants. This has nonetheless been proven to be untrue. Note that although ruminants are more tolerable to gossypol in comparison to monogastric livestock, feed overload can be just as harmful.

Cottonseed meal feed for Health Maintenance

Livestock health is the key part of animal husbandry. Ill animals are less productive causing the agricultural venture great losses. In order to prevent this, farmers are actively seeking for affordable means to maintain animal health. The pressure to find alternative means of ensuring healthy animals has been exacerbated by the ban or restrictions placed on the use of antibiotics in animals unless prescribed by a certified medical professional [note that this is not yet applicable in all countries]. Cottonseed meal feed therefore provides an efficient solution. It rich composition of vitamins and trace minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc among others which play an important role in livestock health. They offer a boost to the immune system allowing animals more tolerance to rampant diseases and infections. In addition, trace minerals play an important role in bone development as well as in the managing lipid oxidation. Oxidative stress diminishes the quality of the meat, its taste and sometimes even the smell. Milk yield in animals and egg production in birds is also negatively affected. As such, farmers are forced to sell their produce in low prices. The provision of cottonseed meal feed is therefore necessary. An important point to remember is that these results are only experienced if proper supplementary feed is provided. Cottonseed meal is lacking in some nutrients hence the need for relevant feed additives.