Feeding strategies with low-priced cottonseed

Cotton Incorporated

CARY, N.C. – Cottonseed prices are hovering just above March’s historical lows, with spot prices ranging from $145 in North Carolina to $217 in Wisconsin. The feed ingredient’s outlook is good for dairy farmers as prices are expected to remain low looking past April and through summer.

“At this price, it’s a particularly good time to consider cottonseed’s ability to provide a nutrient boost to rations and increase milk fat and production,” says Tom Wedegaertner, director, cottonseed research & marketing, Cotton Incorporated.

In research trials, feeding whole cottonseed improved milk production in early lactation, while feeding it to replace grain in mid to late lactation significantly improved butterfat test.

Following a record 2017 cotton harvest, another strong cotton production year is expected in 2018 based on acreage projections. The USDA Outlook Forum puts the crop at the second highest production level since 2007/2008 – only behind last year by four percent. 

To take advantage of lower prices, Wedegaertner suggests two strategies for using cottonseed right now:

Butterfat booster: Cottonseed contains favorable levels of fat, including palmitic acid, which helps boost butterfat production. This can be key to keeping butterfat levels high as we head toward summer, when it is known to level off. 

Replace existing ingredients: While tariffs have thrown soybean prices into question recently, the current drought in Argentina has significantly impacted South America’s supply and kept soybean prices strong, making cottonseed an attractive buy as a protein source. Beyond protein, cottonseed contributes fat and fiber to the ration and can be incorporated as a triple-nutrient forage replacement.

Best prices

Those looking to take advantage of cottonseed prices can easily submit a request for a cottonseed price quote from a qualified list of cottonseed merchants at