Whole cottonseed from Georgia was pricing at over $450/ton last week, delivered to South Florida. Freight will push the price even higher to the Midwest and Northeast. At these prices, it's out of my rations.
Whole cottonseed is a great feed. Sometimes we think we can't feed cows without it. It provides protein, fat and fiber in a convenient package. The alternative oilseeds such soybeans or flax are also overpriced. Unless you grow your own beans, it would be extravagant to buy beans to feed at the $16.58 close last week.
We can match the nutrients provided by whole cottonseed using byproducts like dried distillers grains plus added tallow or bypass fat. Other medium protein byproducts like corn gluten feed could also work.
Last week, we were offered dried distillers grains in Florida at $220/ton. For the first time that I can remember, we can buy a calcium salt rumen inert (bypass) fat for the same price as tallow. So, I'm going with the bypass fat. If we combine distillers grains at $220/ton and bypass fat at $1100/ton in an 85:15 ratio, we can match the protein and fat of whole cottonseed for $352/ton. I like using the rumen inert fat with the distillers grains, to minimize any negative effect of the unsaturated fat in the distillers grains on rumen function and fat test. Distillers grains provide some NDF, but I would make sure the effective ration fiber from forage is adequate to replace the fuzz from the cottonseed.
Put your own numbers in, but I think in most parts of the country we can save money over whole cottonseed and not have to give up production with this sort of combination. I still hope whole cottonseed comes back down to earth sometime soon so we can feed it again.
Rick Lunquist is an independent nutrition and management consultant based in Duluth, Minn. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.