Effects of Feeding Whole Cottonseed on Calf Performance During
Jesse Savell ultimate profitability of the calves. The objective of this study was
Matt Hersom preconditioning program. Sound to evaluate WCS on the basis of calf
Todd Thrift1 preconditioning programs are performance and economics as a
particularly important when establishing supplement for preconditioning calves.
a reputation for quality calves or when
Supplementing steers on bahiagrass considering retained ownership. PROCEDURE
pasture with whole cottonseed This study was conducted at the
yielded lower preconditioning weight The cost of feed during the UF/IFAS Boston Farm - Santa Fe River
gains than supplementing with preconditioning period is usually the Ranch Beef Unit in Alachua County,
soybean meal. Economic analysis greatest expense. Therefore, selecting Florida. The trial began on September 17,
was similar for both supplements. the proper supplement has a great impact 2003, and ended on October 29, 2003. The
on the profitability of the study utilized 42 Angus steers and 30
preconditioning program. Feedstuffs Brangus steers (mean body weight 525
SUMMARY utilized in a preconditioning program + 8 lb) in a 42-d performance trial.
Whole cottonseed (WCS) and should be highly palatable in order to Weights were taken on d 1, d 21, and d
soybean meal (SBM) were evaluated encourage consumption and limit weight 42. Supplemental treatments were 2.78 lb/
as potential supplements for losses immediately following weaning. hd/d as fed of WCS or 1.40 lb/hd/d as
preconditioning beef calves in Florida. Calves should be supplemented with a fed of SBM. Treatments were
Weaned calves were fed 2.78 lb/hd/d as highly digestible feedstuff that isonitrogenous with a target
fed of WCS or 1.40 lb/hd/d as fed of SBM compliments the nutrient profile of the consumption of 0.6 lb/hd/d CP. A
for a 42-d preconditioning period. Steer existing forage. Storage and feeding of complete summary of supplement
calves fed WCS had lower these commodities should be taken into composition and the amount of
preconditioning weight gains than consideration. Many different feedstuff supplement offered is available in Table
steers supplemented with SBM (30.7 lb/ options exist for preconditioning calves 1. The mean age for both treatment
hd vs 40.1lb/hd). An economic in Florida. Some of these feedstuffs can groups was 237 + 3 d. Calves were
evaluation of preconditioning with be very expensive which may limit their stratified to treatment based on weight,
WCS or SBM was included. usefulness from an economic standpoint. breed, and age. Initial weight was not
Preconditioning with WCS generated However, the use of cheaper byproduct different between treatments (P=0.71).
a $5.25 profit, while preconditioning feedstuffs, that are available locally, may
with SBM generated $5.72 profit when At weaning (d-1), cow/calf pairs
make it possible to increase profits for
compared to selling calves at weaning. were penned in the morning and calves
producers while optimizing animal
were separated for weaning. The calves
were weighed, ear tagged, vaccinated
Preconditioning is a process that Whole cottonseed is a byproduct with a modified live 4-way viral
prepares the calf’s immune system of the cotton industry that is readily respiratory vaccine, boostrered with a 7-
against future challenges. available to southeastern producers. way clostridial vaccine, dewormed with
Preconditioning involves weaning, Due to the seasonal harvest of cotton an injectable avermectin dewormer, and
vaccinating, and training calves to eat there is an increase in WCS production sorted into treatment groups. The
from feed bunks. Other factors including during the months of September, October, vaccinations were boostered with the
socialization and environmental and November (NCPA, 2005). Historical same products three wks later. The calves
adaptation are also very important. It is data from USDA (2005) has shown that were weaned in drylot pens with
well documented by Cole (1985) that 72.5% of the cotton produced in the US adequate shade, water, and hay for 5 d.
preconditioned calves are healthier than is produced during these three months. Free choice Coastal bermudagrass hay
non-preconditioned calves resulting in This coincides with the period of time was provided for each treatment during
improved performance in the feedlot. when many Florida cattle producers are the drylot period. Calves were fed their
The improvement in animal health in the weaning their calves. This relationship respective supplements each morning in
feedlot has also been expressed by between cotton harvest and weaning 10 ft portable plastic feed bunks with 14
improved carcass quality (McNeill et al, suggests consideration of WCS as a in of bunk space per animal. On d 2 and d
2002). The improvement in subsequent byproduct feedstuff for economically 3, supplement was offered on top of
feedlot performance associated with preconditioning calves. Whole Coastal bermudagrass hay at 50% and
preconditioned calves has led to market cottonseed is a good source of energy 60% of target intake respectively. The
driven premiums for these calves. (90% total digestible nutrients (TDN), amount of supplement was increased by
However, the actual amount of the 17.5% fat) and contains 24.4% crude 10%/d until the desired level of
premium, gain during the preconditioning protein (CP) (NRC, 1996). The palatability supplementation was achieved on d 7.
period, cost of preconditioning, and of WCS is good in mature cows, but On the morning of d 6, calves were turned
other market factors will affect the relatively unknown in young stressed out onto bahiagrass pastures. There was
2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT 75
no refusal of feed during the drylot in weight gain between treatments supplements produced acceptable
period. appears to be the result of decreased dry weight gains. However, the palatability
Animals were housed in two matter intake (DMI) of WCS during the and handling characteristics of WCS
adjacent 15-ac pastures of Argentine second 21-d period (Figure 3). The calves appear to be the greatest limiting factors
bahiagrass for the duration of the trial. in the SBM treatment reached the target to its widespread use as a
The pastures were 6-wk regrowth intake by d 7, and there was no refusal of preconditioning supplement. More
following hay harvest. Fertilizer was feed for the duration of the trial. The importantly, there was no incidence of
applied in the form of granular ammonium calves on the WCS treatment exhibited morbidity or mortality on either
nitrate at a rate of 150 lb/ac (50 lb of periodic refusal that increased in supplement. The health status of these
nitrogen/ac) 2 wk prior to the beginning frequency and amount as the trial calves can be attributed to proper
of the trial. The treatment groups were continued. One possible explanation for immunization, adequate nutrition, and
rotated between pastures every 7 d in an the decrease in DMI could be insult to weaning on the ranch which both reduces
attempt to eliminate pasture effect on calf the WCS by pests or weather while in stress and eliminates commingling.
performance. Forage availability was the commodity bay. The decrease in DMI
could also be a function on increased LITERATURE CITED
measured at the beginning of the trial
lipid in the diet. Cole, N. A. 1985. Vet. Clin. of North Am.
and every other week until completion.
Food Anim. Pract. 1:401
Forage availability was not different A summary of the costs
(P>0.10) for both treatments and was Dhuyvetter et al. 2005. Prof. Anim. Sci.
associated with preconditioning are 21:502.
never less than 1,400 lb of dry matter listed in Table 2. The total costs of
(DM)/ac. Water and a complete mineral McNeill et al. 2002. Texas A&M
preconditioning for SBM and WCS were
supplement were offered ad libitum University Coop. Ext. Serv.
$36.54/hd and $34.68/hd, respectively.
during the entire trial. The value added to calves that were NCPA. 2005. National cottonseed
All statistical analyses were preconditioned with SBM was $42.26/hd, products association: U.S. cotton-
conducted using the General Linear while calves fed WCS showed an seed production. Available: http://
Models procedure of SAS. The statistical increase in value of $39.93/hd compared www.cottonseed.com/Whatsnew/
model included supplement treatment to non-preconditioned calves. When seedproduction.asp. Accessed July
with calf age as a covariant. Least compared to selling the calves at 19, 2005.
squares means were calculated. Results weaning, the amount of profit derived NRC. 1996. 7th rev. ed. Natl. Acad.
were considered significant if P<0.05. from preconditioning was $5.72/hd for Press, Washington, DC.
SBM and $5.25/hd for WCS. If the USDA. 2003. Agricultural marketing
An economical analysis was service: Florida weekly auction
difference in the amount of shrink
conducted using actual costs for summary. Available http://
between preconditioned and non-
vaccines, anthelmintic, fertilizer, www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/
preconditioned calves is taken into
pesticide, mineral, and supplement. The OR_LS410.txt. Accessed Sept. 19,
consideration, the true profit potential
opportunity costs of hay, pasture, and 2003.
of preconditioning can be estimated.
labor were calculated. Details of the
Assuming that the preconditioned calves USDA. 2005. National agricultural
economic analysis are presented in Table
shrink 1% and the non-preconditioned statistics service: Cotton ginnings
2. The costs and returns associated with
calves shrink 5%, the amount of profit annual reports. Available: http://
preconditioned calves were compared to
derived from preconditioning would be usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/
a theoretical group of non-
$14.71/hd for SBM and $14.16/hd for nassr/field/pcg-bban/. Accessed
WCS. July 19, 2005.
RESULTS The economic evaluation was ACNOWLEDGMENTS
There was a treatment effect on 42- made on the basis of research conducted The authors would like to thank
d gain (P<0.05). Calves fed SBM gained by Dhuyvetter et al (2005) that suggests the staff of the UF/IFAS Boston Farm –
40.1 lb during the preconditioning period, that preconditioned calves are worth Santa Fe River Ranch Beef Unit for their
while calves fed WCS gained 30.7 lb $0.05/lb more than non-preconditioned assistance in conducting these
(Figure 1). During the first 21-d feeding calves. If preconditioned calves could experiments.
period, there was no difference (P<0.05) not have been sold for more $/lb, then
in gain between SBM and WCS. this analysis would have yielded a
However, there was a treatment effect on negative return. Jesse Savell, Graduate Student; Matt
gain for the second 21-d period of Hersom, Assistant Professor; Todd
preconditioning (P<0.01). During the Both SBM and WCS yielded Thrift, Assistant Professor; UF/IFAS,
second 21-d period, calves fed SBM similar economic results, and both Department of Animal Sciences,
gained 17.1 lb while calves fed WCS supplements appear to have value as Gainesville, FL.
gained 6.2 lb (Figure 2). The difference preconditioning supplements. Both
76 2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT
Table 1. Feeding rate and nutrient composition of soybean meal (SBM) and whole cottonseed (WCS)
SBM preconditioned WCS preconditioned
Feeding rate 1.40 2.78
DMI 1.26 2.56
CPb 0.63 0.62
TDN 1.10 2.30
Feeding rate 1.29 2.10
DMI 1.16 1.94
CP 0.58 0.47
TDN 1.01 1.74
Dry matter intake.
Total digestible nutrients.
2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT 77
Table 2. Economic evaluation of preconditioning with soybean meal (SBM) or whole cottonseed (WCS).
Non-preconditioned SBM preconditioned WCS preconditioned
Vaccines 5.47 5.47
Anthelminticb 1.73 1.73
Fertilizer 8.59 8.59
Pesticided 3.10 3.10
Mineral 0.88 0.58
Supplementf 9.07 6.56
Hay 1.67 1.67
Pastureh 1.44 1.44
Labor 2.33 3.28
Interest 2.26 2.26
Total costk 36.54 34.68
Calf weight, lbl 525 563 557
Calf price, $/cwt 93.44 89.64 90.24
Adj. calf price, $/cwtn 94.64 95.24
Calf value 490.56 532.82 530.49
Value addedp 42.26 39.93
Profit 5.72 5.25
Shrunk calf weight, lbr 499 557 551
Shrunk calf price, $/cwts 96.04 90.24 90.84
Shrunk adj. calf price, $/cwt 95.24 95.84
Shrunk calf valueu 479.24 530.49 528.08
Shrunk value added 51.25 48.84
Shrunk profit 14.71 14.16
Preconditioned calves were vaccinated twice before weaning and again at weaning with a MLV.
5 ml dose (550 lb) of injectable avermectin dewormer per calf.
150 lb/ac of 34-0-0 (50 lb of N/ac).
1qt/ac of Sevin XLR @ $29.80/gal.
150 lb for SBM, 100 lb for WCS @ $10.50/bag.
1,955 lb of SBM @ $334.20/ton, 3,776 lb of WCS @ $125.00/ton.
2 rolls of Coastal bermudagrass hay (average weight 830 lb) per treatment @ $30.00/roll.
15 ac/treatment @ $30.00/ac/yr.
10.5 h for SBM @ $8.00/h, 14.75 h for WCS @ $8.00/h.
4% interest for 42 d on the value of the calves at weaning ($490.56).
Total cost of preconditioning.
Actual weight without accounting for shrink.
Calf price $93.44/cwt @ 525 lb (USDA, 2003). Preconditioned price determined by a $0.10/lb slide.
Calf price adjusted for premiums associated with preconditioning $0.05/lb (Dhuyvetter et al, 2005).
Total calf value using adjusted calf price and actual weight without accounting for shrink.
Value added due to preconditioning. (Preconditioned calf value – Non-Preconditioned calf value).
Profit over the value of Non-Preconditioned calves (Value Added – Total Cost).
Calf weight adjusted for shrink differences (Assuming Preconditioned 1%, Non-Preconditioned 5%).
Calf price $93.44/cwt @ 525 lb adjusted for shrink differences with a $0.10/lb slide.
Calf price adjusted for shrink and premiums associated with preconditioning $0.05/lb.
Total calf value using adjusted calf price and shrunk weight.
Value added due to preconditioning and shrink differences.
Profit over the value of Non-Preconditioned calves including shrink differences.
78 2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT
Figure 1. Forty-two day weight gain of calves supplemented with soybean meal (SBM) or whole cottonseed (WCS).
42-d Weight Gain
Total Gain (lb)
Means with different superscripts are different P=0.02.
Figure 2. Body weight gain of calves preconditioned with soybean meal (SBM) or whole cottonseed (WCS) by period.
Body Weight Gain by Period
First 21-d Period Second 21-d Period
Period of Gain
Means with different superscripts are different P=0.02.
2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT 79
Figure 3. Supplement intake of soybean meal (SBM) or whole cottonseed (WCS) as a percentage of target intake by week.
Supplement Intake (% of Target)
Intake (% of Target)
1 2 3 4 5 6
80 2007 FLORIDA BEEF REPORT