Texas Cattle Ranchers Turn To Cotton For Feed

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

Times are tough for Texas cattle ranchers.

There simply isn't anything for their cattle to graze on.

"People are looking for any source of energy or any source of refuge they can find," said Tryon Wickersham.

Wickersham is a nutritionist at Texas AgriLife Research and a few months ago, he got an interesting question from ranchers.

"Late August is when we first started getting calls about feeding cotton to cattle," said Wickersham.

Turns out that several ranchers wanted to use low yield cotton crops as feed and their biggest question, what is its nutritional value?

"It's much better than we anticipated. They're high in crude protein and high in digestible energy," said Wickersham.

That's right, turns out cotton is OK for cattle to consume.

"They actually consume it relatively well, they just leave the main plant behind. They eat all the leaves and all the cotton," said Wickersham

And with hay in such short supply, cattle don't seem to mind a new item on the menu.

"They seem to be willing to eat it. They're hungry enough. If it gets hungry enough, they'll eat brussels sprouts and I think we are at that point," joked Wickersham

The folks over at the AgriLife Research say that before allowing cattle to feed on cotton plants that the plants need to be analyzed for nutritive value by the University.

You can contact the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory at 979-845-4816.

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