Alternative Feedstuffs for Beef Cattle Operations – Part II

By Jane Parish, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Mississippi State University - The Stocker Cents article presented information on a variety of feedstuffs available to Mississippi beef producers. This article continues the focus on alternative feeding options with additional feedstuff highlights.
calendar icon 18 September 2006
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This information is intended to help beef producers (both cow-calf and stocker operators) better evaluate feeding options this year.

Cotton Products

Whole Cottonseed
Whole cottonseed is a major by-product of the cotton ginning process.   

  • Excellent beef cattle feed, good energy and protein levels
  • 2 lbs. cottonseed roughly equal to 1 lb. each of corn and cottonseed meal
  • Readily available in cotton-producing areas
  • High fat content limits use levels to 25% or less of total dry matter intake
  • Feed no more than 5 to 6 lbs. per head per day to mature cattle
  • Feed no more than 2 to 3 lbs. per head per day to weaned calves
  • Do not feed at more than 20% of the diet for cattle in stocker or finishing programs
  • Must be hand fed
  • Flow limitations in feeding bins and equipment, difficult to auger or gravity flow   
Cottonseed Hulls
Cottonseed hulls are a by-product of the cotton industry.


  • Extremely palatable
  • High in crude fiber, lowly digestible
  • Can be used as the sole roughage source in cattle diets
  • Good hay-replacer diet ingredient or alternative to chopped hay in mixed feeds
  • Bulky with excellent mixing qualities at low levels in concentrate diets
  • Should not exceed 10 to 25% of diet for growing or finishing cattle
  • Often expensive

Cottonseed Meal
Cottonseed meal is a by-product of the cottonseed oil milling process.

  • Excellent locally available protein source
  • Works well in a hot-mix (mixed with salt and offered free-choice)

Cotton Gin Trash
Cotton gin trash is a by-product of the cotton ginning process. Gin trash contains boll residues,
leaves, stems, and lint.

  • Bulky
  • Unpalatable, high fiber, low energy feed
  • Inexpensive feed with limited uses
  • Practical use is in hay-replacer diets when mixed with other feeds

Cotton Mote
Cotton mote is the cotton extracted by a gin’s lint cleaner during the cotton ginning process.

  • High fiber, low energy feed
  • Palatability usually not a problem
  • Most baled into 4’ x 4’ x 5’ bales
  • Can be handled and fed with same equipment used for large round hay bales
  • Practical use is in hay-replacer diets with other supplemental feeds  

Wheat Products


  • Should be mixed with other ingredients to reduce acidosis risk
  • Feed at no more than 0.5% of animal body weight
  • Coarsely cracked or rolled wheat is more digestible than whole grain wheat
  • Not commonly used as a feed grain in Mississippi

Wheat Middlings (Midds)
Wheat midds result from the wheat milling process.

  • Good energy and protein content
  • Available as loose meal or pellets
  • Pelleted form cannot be stored for any length of time during hot, humid weather
  • Practical use in Mississippi only during winter
  • Should be combined with other ingredients to reduce risk of founder and bloat
  • Moderately palatable
  • Limit to 50% or less of total dry matter intake
  • High phosphorus levels relative to calcium levels

Peanut Products

Peanut Hay
Peanut hay is composed of the vines and leaves of peanut plants after the peanuts are

  • Protein content is fair to good
  • Energy content is low
  • Extremely palatable to cattle
  • Highly susceptible to spoilage and losses unless stored under wrap or cover
  • Can be used as the primary forage in cattle diets when supplemented properly

Peanut Hulls
Peanut hulls are the by-product of the peanut shelling process.

  • Extremely bulky and difficult to handle
  • High in fiber, extremely low in energy and protein
  • Availability depends upon proximity to shelling plant
  • Uses in hay-replacer diets and as an extender in stocker concentrate diets
  • Do not use finely ground or pelleted peanut hulls (health risk to cattle)

Peanut Skins
Peanut skins are the result of skin removal from the peanut kernel.

  • Very limited potential in beef cattle diets
  • Difficult to handle, light, bulky, flow problems, can be blown by wind
  • Moderate protein and energy levels
  • High tannin levels that reduce protein digestibility and decrease palatability
  • Do not use at levels of more than 10% of dietary dry matter

Raw Peanuts
Raw, whole peanuts are typically valued higher for uses other than as cattle feed.

  • Very good energy and protein levels
  • High fat content limits feeding levels
  • Maximum of 4 lbs. per day should be fed to mature cattle
  • Must be introduced to cattle gradually
  • Check aflatoxin levels before feeding (do not exceed 200 ppb in cattle diets)

Rice Products

Rice Bran
Rice bran is a by-product of the rice milling process.

  • Finely ground material, handling and storage in bins difficult, blending with other feeds improves flow
  • Moderate protein levels
  • High fat content unless defatted, limit to no more than one-third of diet
  • Substantially less energy than soybean hulls even with high fat levels
  • High fat rice bran less palatable and susceptible to rancidity in warm weather
  • High phosphorus content

Rice Millfeed
Rice millfeed is a by-product of the rice milling process. 

  • Finely ground material
  • Combination of rice hull and rice bran
  • Often highly variable in composition
  • Founder is possible when fed at high levels
  • Handling characteristics similar to rice bran
  • Typically less expensive and longer storage life than rice bran

Rice Hulls
Rice hulls are a by-product of the rice milling process.

  • Extremely low nutritional value in beef cattle diets

Additional By-Product Feeds

Brewers Grains
Brewers grains are a by-product of beer production.
  • With wet brewers grains, 75% of product transported is water
  • Shelf life is a concern with wet feed
  • Should be stored in anaerobic conditions or stacked and fed rapidly
  • Good protein content
  • Usefulness limited due to high water content

Cane Molasses
Cane molasses is a by-product from sugar manufacture.

  • Extremely palatable
  • Excellent energy source
  • Commonly blended with vitamins and minerals

Citrus Pulp
Citrus pulp is made by shredding, liming, pressing, and drying the peel, pulp, and seed residues from citrus fruit.

  • Availability and cost-effectiveness for use in Mississippi is limited
  • Good energy supplement
  • Very digestible, low protein, high fiber feed
  • Excellent feed if acquired, best deals usually in mid-winter
  • Should be limited to one-third or less of the diet for growing beef cattle
  • Initial palatability problems with calves quickly overcome
  • Often pelleted to facilitate transportation
  • Darkening toward a black color indicative of overheating

To view part 1 of this feature click here

September 2006

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