Sun Seeds Perform Well in Dairy Study
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
* The extruded sunflower product was satisfactory and economical as
a high-fiber and high-energy supplement.
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