Performance and blood parameters when lambs and meat-goat kids were finished on pasture with and without whole cottonseed (Gossypium hirsutum) supplementation

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Abstract

We evaluated forage production patterns, weight gains and blood parameters when lambs (Ovis aries) and meat-goat (Caprus hircus) kids were finished on a mixed sward of cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) with (SUP) and without (UNSUP) supplemental whole cottonseed (Gossypium hirsutum; WCS) in a replicated study. Botanical composition and energy/protein ratios of the sward varied with year and with time during the growing season. Swards had greater amounts of red clover relatively early and more cocksfoot later in the season. Suffolk (SX) lambs had the heaviest body weights, Katahdin (KA) lambs were intermediate, and meat-goat (GX) kids were the lightest at the end of each year. Overall body weight gain followed a trend of SX > KA > GX, and WCS supplementation increased weight gain for all animals by 18%. Only in 2008 did SUP animals have higher blood urea nitrogen levels, which may indicate less efficient use of dietary nitrogen when grazing grass–legume pastures managed for high nutritive value compared with UNSUP animals. Gossypol in WCS did not affect blood packed cell volume between SUP and UNSUP lambs and meat-goat kids. Suffolk lambs, Katahdin lambs and cross-bred Boer meat-goat kids finished on pasture with and without WCS supplementation produced desirable body weights for most ethnic markets in the USA.

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