More beef for your feed dollar

The feeding value of protein meals for ruminants cannot simply be gauged by comparing Crude Protein percentage.  In ruminants, dietary Crude Protein can either be broken down in the rumen by microbes (termed Soluble Protein or Rumen Degradable Protein), or pass through the rumen intact and then be absorbed directly by the ruminant (termed Bypass Protein).

Together with sufficient energy, Soluble Protein supports maintenance in the ruminant.  However, for production, Bypass Protein is also required.  Different feeds contain different proportions of Soluble and Bypass Protein.  Copra Meal contains around 22% Crude Protein, most of which is Bypass Protein.  Cottonseed meal typically contains around 40% Crude Protein, half of which is Bypass, and the rest of which is Soluble Protein.  Urea – whilst not a true protein – provides ruminants with high levels of equivalent Soluble Protein.

Research carried out at various Agricultural Research Institutes in NSW and QLD has compared liveweight gains achieved from feeding different combinations of soluble and bypass proteins.  In a trial conducted at Grafton, Hereford steers on low quality forage were supplemented with either 500g copra meal, 1000g copra meal, 500g copra meal + 30g urea (soluble protein), or 500g cottonseed meal.  The results are shown in table 1.

Feed Supplement

500g Copra Meal

1000g Copra Meal

500g Copra Meal

+ 30g Urea

500g Cottonseed Meal

Liveweight Gain (g/head/day)






(kg liveweight gain/kg supplement)





Reference:  Copra meal as a supplement to cattle offered a low quality native pasture hay. Hennessey, D.W, Kempton, T.J and Williamson, P.J. (1989) A.J.A.S 2:77-84).

The data show that copra meal gives similar weightgains to cottonseed meal, and that feeding higher levels of copra meal further increases growth rate. The addition of soluble protein (urea) to copra meal further increased growth, and also increased the efficiency of conversion of supplement into beef. Given the often significant price differences between cottonseed meal, copra meal, and soluble protein sources such as urea, this has economic implications for graziers seeking optimal returns from money invested in feed.

GroStance is a new product from Stance Livestock which contains both copra meal and urea in a unique ‘safened’, slow-release form.  It provides ruminants with bypass protein (from copra meal) and soluble protein (from ‘safened’ urea) to improve the conversion of copra meal into beef.  This is good news for graziers who want to increase growth rates, reduce time to finishing, increase turnover and get the biggest liveweight gains for every feed dollar invested.

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