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Cotton seed meal -- safe for horses?

From: Mary

I was looking at some cotton seed meal yesterday. It looked pretty good. Is there a reason we don't feed it to horses? Could we?

I just realized I didn't make myself very clear. I meant can you feed cotton seed meal as an additive? I don't think anyone would want to feed straight 40% protein, a horse might burst into flames. My horse had a small handfull and liked it. Mary

Hi Mary! Cottonseed meal is very high protein -- sometimes even 48%! Horses do like it, and you could feed it instead of soybean meal, but only to mature horses! It's not so great for younger horses, because the protein quality is lower, and there's not much lysine in cottonseed meal (horses need lysine for growth). Another reason NOT to feed cottonseed meal to young horses is the gossypol content -- gossypol toxicosis isn't common in horses, but when it occurs, one of the results can be sudden death with no warning signs.

Most horses enjoy soybean meal, and I would suggest offering THAT as a protein supplement instead of cottonseed meal.

You can get more details from your county extension agent or equine specialist -- a good person to consult about your horse's diet in any case, along with your veterinarian.

- Jessica

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