Digestibility And Intake Of Emergency Feeds For Beef Cattle
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Digestibility And Intake Of Emergency Feeds For Beef Cattle Stacey White, April Shaeffer, Gregory Whitener, Susan Vick, Dr. Matthew Poore Department of Animal Science, Box 7621, Raleigh, NC 27695. I ntroduction

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Digestibility And Intake Of Emergency Feeds For Beef CattleStacey White, April Shaeffer, Gregory Whitener, Susan Vick, Dr. Matthew Poore Department of Animal Science, Box 7621, Raleigh, NC 27695


In 2007-2008 North Carolina experienced extreme drought. During this drought beef producers used emergency feeds, such as corn stover and cotton gin trash, to feed their herds.

Cotton Gin Trash and Corn Stover

Cotton gin trash is the by product of cotton processing composed of fragments of burs and stems, immature cottonseed, lint, leaf fragments, and dirt. Corn stover is the by product of corn harvesting and is composed of corn stalk, husk, silk, cob, and leaves.


Corn stover differed from mixed grass hay and cotton gin trash in nitrogen intake, urinary nitrogen, fecal nitrogen, nitrogen retention, and dry matter intake in both the intake and digestion periods. Both dry and wet corn stover had similar intake and digestibility for dry matter, organic matter, NDF, ADF,

cellulose, and hemicelluose.

  • Objectives

  • To determine the digestibility and intake of emergency feeds

  • To determine if moisture levels at baling of corn stover impact digestibility and intake

Figure 1. (left) Cows eating cotton gin trash

Figure 2. (right) Cows eating corn stover


*Superscript in columns show difference in analysis

Materials and Methods

This experiment was conducted at the North Carolina State University Metabolism Unit.

For this experiment fourteen steers were fed diets of mixed grass hay (n=4), dry (n=4) or wet corn stover (n=4), or cotton gin trash (n=2), plus appropriate supplements. The experiment included a 14-day adjustment period to the diets, a 21-day intake period, a 5-day adjustment period to the digestion crates, and a 5-day collection of total feces and urine.

Feces were collected using tarps that were placed behind steers in the digestion crates. Urine was collected using oil drain pans placed under the collecting funnel of the digestion crates. Feces and urine were collected on a aliquot basis of 3 and 4%, respectively.

Materials and Methods

Figure 3. (far left) Steers in digestion crates

Figure 4. (left) Measuring of urine output

Figure 5. (center) Fecal sampling

Figure 6. (right) Weighing urine aliquot

Figure 7. (far right) Setup of collection materials


While hay is the best forage for cattle, for intake and digestibility, both cotton gin trash and corn stover are suitable feeds in emergency situations. The moisture level at time of baling did not have an effect on intake or digestibility of corn stover. Body weight change for each diet during this experiment did not differ, but based on the nitrogen retention cattle fed hay will gain more weight than if fed corn stover or cotton gin trash.