Whole cottonseed has high protein (23%), high energy in the form of fat (20%), and crude fiber (24%) on a dry matter basis. Compared with other commonly available protein supplements, whole cottonseed is the only one with both additional high energy and high fiber. This combination is especially attractive when feeding the high producing, early lactation dairy cow in negative energy balance – a cow in need of both energy and fiber. Also, the energy (fat) content of WCS makes it a valuable addition for cows under heat stress who may have a reduced appetite.
WCS has a value similar to a 20% protein mixture of corn and soybean meal, making it worth around $250/ton with current feed prices. Whole cottonseed has a good balance of crude protein and energy, so it makes a complete supplement in many situations. The “crude protein” in WCS is “true protein” which makes it better for supplementing high forage diets compared to supplements with non-protein nitrogen (urea).
The energy in WCS is primarily from fat, which if fed at a reasonable level, won’t interfere with forage digestion the way the starch in corn can. Research has also shown that the fat in WCS improves reproductive performance.