"Body condition scores remained good and all of them got pregnant," said Dr. Ron Randel, leader of the deer farming research team at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton.
Previous studies have shown feeding even small amounts of whole cottonseed to have severe detrimental effects on male red deer and male fallow deer. Whole cottonseed diets may diminish antler development by as much as 50 percent, lower body condition scores and reduce the animals' sperm motility. This study was with cottonseed meal, Randel emphasized, not whole cottonseed.
Both whole cottonseed and cottonseed meal contain gossypol, a toxic element that naturally occurs in cotton plants. The effects of gossypol on ruminants such as red deer and related species are not so overt as those on non-ruminants, but seem focused on the animal's reproductive physiology.
Whole cottonseed contains tenfold the amount of gossypol than does cottonseed meal. This is assuming the cottonseed meal is produced by a chemical extraction process followed by mechanical extrusion..
Because they are cheap, high energy feedstuffs, whole cottonseed and cottonseed meal are commonly fed to both free-ranging and ranched deer, particularly in West Texas where cottonseed is particularly cheap and plentiful and grazing is at best spartan.
In the study, the most recent gossypol work completed at the Overton center, 66 fallow deer were separated into three groups of 20 does and two bucks each. All groups were contained in individual two-acre Coastal bermudagrass pastures and fed daily.
The control group was fed 0.79 pounds of soybean meal and no cottonseed meal per head, per day. The low-cottonseed-meal group got 0.39 pounds of soybean meal and 0.5
Contact: Robert Burns
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications