Feeding Cottonseed

Host: Eversleigh Station
Written by Jenny Underwood – Owner, Eversleigh Station.

3.1 - Cottonseed in troughCows enjoying cottonseed in a trough.

As the name suggests, cottonseed is the seed of the cotton plant that is left after removing the lint and fibres from the cotton plant. Generally it is very cost effective (well, it used to be before the drought) and provides nutrients such as high protein value of about 23%, crude fibre value of 25%, and high energy value of 14 Megajoules per kg. Whole cottonseed serves as a highly digestible feed which also improves the reproductive performance in livestock. Cottonseed meal can be used in multiple ways: either alone or by mixing it with other plant and animal protein sources.

3.2 - Cottonseed in shed100 tonne of whole cottonseed in the shed after delivery.

We have fed whole cottonseed to both sheep and cattle and have had great success especially in times of severe drought.

3.3 - cottonseed truckThe cottonseed is delivered in tipper trailers which hold 25-27 tonnes of cottonseed.

3.4 - Cottonseed August 2014 (4)Unloading the cottonseed from the tipper. In times of severe drought a shortage of cottonseed meant that some western properties had to source the seed from well over 1000km away.

Sheep are generally fed cottonseed straight onto the ground as they are natural scavengers and will eat every last seed. Cattle are more wasteful and are fed cottonseed in tubs or troughs.

Feeding cottonseed can be very labour-intensive especially if the seed has to be shovelled from the back of a truck or a trailer into tubs or onto the ground.

3.5 - Cottonseed box trailerCottonseed loaded up in the box tailer ready to go.

When you are feeding out up to 450kg per trailer using a shovel it can be very physically demanding. One shovelful of cottonseed for Roger is usually about 5kg. To “make life easier” for me one birthday Roger kindly bought me a smaller shovel than his so that I could lift about 3.5kg per shovelful.

3.6 - Shovelling cottonseedShovelling out cottonseed (photo courtesy Lydia Burton ABC Western Qld).

When we are feeding cattle that are in paddocks close to the shed we will use the bucket on the tractor to take out the seed.

3.7 - Walking cottonseed to stud paddockWalking cottonseed out to the stud cows using the tractor.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Over the years my husband has devised and adapted a number of ways to lessen the need for us to put out the cottonseed by hand.

3.8 - Eating from cottonseed trailerA self-feeder cottonseed trailer where cattle can access the cottonseed ad lib.

Christmas last year saw the creation of the best gift of all! An automatic cottonseed feeder made by Roger, scrounged from a variety of bits and pieces and many hours of blood, sweat and tears to get it made. The base was made using an old trailer made from a second-hand axle; the auger came from an old grain bin; the hydraulic pump came from an old wool press; the framework and sides were made from “treasures” in Roger’s extensive steel pile. The only new piece of equipment was a 9hp motor.

3.9 - Cottonseed machineThe new cottonseed feeder machine ready for its maiden run on Christmas Day 2014.

It works a treat and what’s even better is that while it is still having a bit of a “tweak” and refining done to it, Roger is the one who feeds the cottonseed to all the outlying paddocks. The best Christmas present ever!

3.10 - Putting out cottonseed with new feederThe cottonseed machine in operation.

Of course what would be even better would be for this drought to break so that the feeder can be parked in the shed, the tractor could be used for other purposes and the gates shut once and for all on the cottonseed bay.

3.11 - Shutting the cottonseed shed