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Sun Seeds Perform Well in Dairy Study

Sunday, August 1, 1999
filed under: Utilization/Trade

Minnesota Investigation Compares Extruded Sunflower Seeds with Cottonseed as Source of Nutrient Value

Sunflower seeds performed well in a recent Minnesota dairy feeding

study. The study, conducted by George Marx of the University of

Minnesota's Northwest Experiment Station in Crookston, was a cooperative

project between the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI)

and a central Minnesota commercial feed manufacturer.

The feed - a high-energy, -protein and -fiber product consisting

primarily of extruded sunflower seeds - was compared to conventional

whole fuzzy (linted) cottonseed. The feeding trial utilized 20 early

lactation Holstein cows over an 85-day period (preceded by a two-week

pre-experimental standardizing period). Cows were paired for

stage of lactation, producing ability, lactation number, sire, size,

body weight, body condition and age, Marx notes. One of each pair was

randomly assigned to either the sunflower product or the cottonseed

group for feeding.

Ingredients and percent dry matter in the two rations are shown in

the accompanying Table 1. Milk production, feed consumption, body

weights and condition scores are listed in Table 2. (Contact the NSA for a copy of the tables.)

Both rations were formulated and balanced in nutrient value to meet

requirements of the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for

dairy animals. Alfalfa haylage and corn silage were the primary

forages, with high-moisture corn, soybean meal and either the extruded

sunflower or the cottonseed serving as the primary concentrate portion

of the ration.

"Statistical analysis determined that milk production, fat and

protein, feed consumption, body weights and body condition did not

differ statistically between the two treatment groups," Marx reports.

Health status, reproductive data (services per conception and

pronounced pregnancy) were similar as well.

"One reason for developing this product is to utilize sunflower

seeds grown in Minnesota for a dairy feed," versus shipping in whole

cottonseeds - used extensively by Minnesota dairymen - from southern

states. "Reducing feed costs is also a concern for dairymen,

particularly with high-producing cows," Marx notes.

What were the primary conclusions from this sunflower dairy feeding

study? Marx offers these observations:

* The high-fat and -fiber sunflower production was a useful

supplement in early lactation and supported high milk production.

* No unusual nutritional or health problems were observed.

* Palatability and acceptability were favorable, not a concern.

* The experimental group gained body weight similarly to the


* Milk, protein and fat production were similar between groups.

* No mechanical or handling problems developed in feeding the

sunflower product.

* The extruded sunflower product was satisfactory and economical as

a high-fiber and high-energy supplement.

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