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Vol. 10, No. 2





February 15, 1955

A new feed ingredient tested by the Iowa
Agricultural Experiment Station has resulted
in cheaper, faster gains on beef cattle in
feed lots. The new drug is known as stilbestrol. The material is a synthetic chemical
which has been manufactured for 15 or 20
years. Its principal use has been for physi­
ological effects in the treatment of certain
human disorders involving the reproductive
organs. More recently, it has been used to
some extent in poultry, but only in the past
year or two has the material been used in
cattle feed.

Federal and state regulations can use the
material in cattle feeds.
Use of stilbestrol in cattle feed tests in
Iowa resulted in live-weight gains as much
as 37 percent greater than on similar rations
which did not contain the material. In highroughage rations, where cattle were being
wintered to gain moderately, stilbestrol stim­
ulated gains of 10 to 15 percent above those
of the check groups. Considering all costs
and the increased rate of gain (and based
on 1954 feed prices), the average result of
six experiments using different types of cat­
tle was a saving of 2 to 4 cents per pound
of live-beef gain.

The material currently is available in cer­
tain commercial feeds, and its use, under
certain specified conditions, has been ap­
An Illinois farmer using the material re­
proved by the Food and Drug Administra­
tion. Because of its harmful effect upon hu­ ported that his steers on rations containing
mans when used in excessive quantities and stilbestrol gained an average of 3.46 pounds
because of the small amount of the drug per head daily, or slightly more than 3A
which should be used in proportion to total pound over the average of the control group
feed in cattle feeding operations, the Food receiving no stilbestrol. Profits from the stiland Drug Administration has set up rela­ bestrol-fed steers were $27.15 per head
tively strict control regulations. These apply more than from those in the control group.
primarily to the feed manufacturer, who
The material acts very much in the man­
must follow certain specifications in main­
taining control of the quantity included in ner of a hormone, stimulating some of the
the feed. For example, the final cattle sup­ growth factors in the animals. The material
plement using the approved mixture results is relatively inexpensive and does not add
in only 5 milligrams of stilbestrol per pound substantially to the feed cost.
of feed.
There is no indication that the use of stil­
Because of the necessity for careful and bestrol is of value in dairy cows, bulls, or
rigid control in mixing the feeds, farmers beef breeding cows and bulls. There is no
are not permitted to purchase the material experimental evidence that low feeding
and mix their own feeds. However, all feed levels of stilbestrol would be injurious to
manufacturers who have adequate mixing breeding animals. Nevertheless, until proved
and control facilities and who can meet the safe and beneficial, it should not be fed to



any dairy or beef breeding animals. Also, it
should not be fed to sheep, poultry, or swine,
as feeding procedures have not yet been de­
veloped and approved for these animals.

Wheat Pasture Poisoning Hits
Mature Cows

given aureomycin, states a recent release
from Louisiana State University. Also, fewer
pigs died during the first 3 days after far­
rowing in litters farrowed by aureomycinfed sows.

Profitable Use of Diverted Acres
in Louisiana

Wheat pasture poisoning occurs primar­
Agriculturists at Louisiana State Univer­
ily in mature cows 2 years of age and over
which are in the late stages of pregnancy or sity indicate that there are several general
have suckling calves, research workers at possibilities for profitably using acres taken
PanTech Field Laboratory at Panhandle, out of cotton, rice, and sugar cane. For ex­
ample, cotton acreage diverted to corn and
Texas, have reported.
soybeans may be hogged off. This practice
Most of the cases of wheat poisoning de­ has proved profitable and is a good soil
veloped after 60 days and before 150 days builder in the cotton areas of Louisiana.
of grazing on wheat and before the calf was
60 days old. The symptoms of the poisoning
Rice and beef pas­
were noted in beef and dairy, as well as
tu re ro ta tio n h as
been very practical
crossbred, cows.
in the rice areas and
is now being adapted
Salt, cottonseed meal, mineral mixtures,
where sugar cane is
silage, and various dry feeds—fed alone or
grown. By using live­
in combination— gave little or no protection
stock in connection
against wheat pasture poisoning. It is pos­
sible that the supplements, because of their with his cropping operations, the farmer not
diluting effect, may prolong the time re­ only produces pork and beef but also has
higher yields when the land is replanted to
quired for the attack to occur.
cotton, rice, or cane.
The best treatment seems to be the injec­
tion of a calcium gluconate solution fortified
Not all farms with diverted acres should
with magnesium and phosphorus. Removal go into livestock production or necessarily
of the cow from the wheat pasture for a few increase existing livestock numbers. Many
days may speed recovery.
farms which already have livestock could
use more pastures and grow more hay and
There is little chance for the animal’s re­ silage profitably.
covery if treatment is not begun before
coma sets in, which usually happens 6 to
On other Louisiana farms, the commer­
10 hours after the appearance of the first cial production of hay may be profitable this
symptoms. Beginning symptoms are undue year, since about twice as much hay and
excitement, poor coordination, and loss of silage could be used as is being used now.
There are many soil-building practices farm­
ers may use which can qualify for pay­
ments under the agricultural conservation
Larger Litters with Aureomycin program.
Results from recent tests show that, when
sows get a little aureomycin in their rations,
they farrow larger litters than those not

The specialists indicate that, in those
cases where profitable production can be
combined with soil-building work and diver-


sification, the farmer with acres diverted
from controlled crops may be better off in
the long run.

Blackstrap Used for Dairy Feed
Blackstrap molasses can replace up to
one-half of the concentrate in the ration of
dairy cows, a recent release from Louisiana
State University notes.
In recent tests, three groups of cows were
observed. One group of cows was fed 4
pounds of molasses per cow daily to replace
one-fourth of the concentrate. Another
group was fed 8 pounds of molasses to re­
place one-half of the concentrate. These two
groups of molasses-fed cows produced as
well as cows in the control group, to which
no molasses was fed.
The feed cost per 100 pounds of milk
averaged $2.60 for the control group, $2.55
for the cows fed 4 pounds of molasses per
cow, and $2.49 for the cows fed 8 pounds
of molasses.

Prickly Pear Used in Cattle
A ration of singed prickly pear supple­
mented with cottonseed cake makes a satis­
factory maintenance feed for steers in poor
condition, according to Leo B. Merrill of
the Sonora Agricultural Experiment Station.
The feed is not satisfactory for steers which
have been on a high level of nutrition.
For the test, two groups of steers were
used. When placed on the prickly pear diet,
steers weighing less than 640 pounds gained
weight during a 3-month feeding period.
Steers weighing 720 pounds or more actual­
ly lost weight on the ration. Both groups of
animals were fed 2 pounds of cottonseed
cake per head per day.
Many studies have found that prickly
pear is valuable as a maintenance ration in


areas of severe drought. Scientists at the
Sonora station say that the differences of
opinion regarding the value of prickly pear
as a livestock feed are due to the conditions
under which it has been used.
In the tests, the 640-pound animals
made little gain on pasturage prior to the
prickly pear feeding trials. This indicates
that the pastures they were grazing were
providing little more than a sustaining ra­
tion. Consequently, the prickly pear and cot­
tonseed ration was as good as or better than
their previous pasturage.
On the other hand, the loss in weight
of the heavier group of animals while on
the prickly pear ration indicates that the
ration was poorer than the previous pastur­
age they had grazed.

New Corn Varieties Available
Two new corn hybrids were made avail­
able by the Texas Agricultural Experiment
Station in time for 1955 planting. The varie­
ties are Texas 17W, a white hybrid, and
Texas 32, a yellow hybrid. The seed can be
purchased from established seed dealers.
According to Dr. J. S.
Rogers of Texas A. & M. Col­
lege, the new hybrids are the
first to be produced in Texas
without detasseling. In com­
parison with Texas 11W and
15W, Texas 17W is 3 or 4
days earlier and produces a
larger grain. It has shown excel­
lent resistance to root lodging and stalk
breaking and is reasonably free of earworm
damage. The plants are smaller and shorter
than 15W and should be planted at a greater
rate than other hybrids. Texas 17W is recom­
mended for all corn-growing areas in Texas,
especially those where moisture is a serious
limiting factor. Because of its early maturity,
17W has outyielded 15W under drought



The new Texas 32 variety is similar in
performance to present Texas yellow hy­
brids 26, 28, and 30. Texas 32 produces
slightly longer ears and smaller grain and
usually only one ear per stalk. Although it
is recommended for most of the corn-growing
regions of Texas, it is not preferred in the
drier areas of the State nor in areas where
insect and disease damage is great.

What Kind of Broilers ?
One of the problems facing the broiler
producer is the selection of the strain or
variety to use for greatest efficiency and
profitableness in his broiler operation. Dur­
ing 1953 the Texas Agricultural Experi­
ment Station conducted tests of various
strains and crosses of birds used in broiler
production at the Nacogdoches Substation
in east Texas.
The strains and crosses
included White Rocks,
Red Cornish cross, Wyan­
dotte cross, New Hamp­
shire, Indian River cross,
and D o m in a n t white
cross. Groups of these
birds were raised during
three different seasons, with birds being
marketed in January, May, and September.
Records were kept of mortality loss, aver­
age weight at 9 weeks, feed efficiency, and
feather score— a measure of the market
The Red Cornish cross was heaviest at
marketing time and had the best feed ef­
ficiency but did not have as good a finish
as some of the other groups. The Red Cor­
nish birds averaged 3.04 pounds in weight
at 9 weeks of age, with a feed efficiency of
2.82 pounds of feed per pound of bird pro­
duced. Mortality was relatively low at 3.2
percent but was not the lowest of the
The White Rock birds had the lowest
mortality, averaging only 2.6 percent, and

the most uniform dressed market grades.
However, these birds averaged only 2.52
pounds at 9 weeks and required 3.04
pounds of feed per pound of bird produced.
The accompanying table shows the per­
cent mortality, average weight at 9 weeks,
and feed efficiency for the six strains tested.

Strain or cross

Percent weight at
mortality 9 weeks

White Rock .................. ............2.6
Red Cornish cross......... ............3.2
Wyandotte c ro ss............ ............3.3
New H am pshire............ ............8.1
Indian River cross ....... ............4.2
Dominant white cross ... ............4.3




1 Pounds of feed required to produce 1 pound of bird.

Growth and feed efficiency in all strains
and crosses were best in the spring and
poorest in the summer. However, the rela­
tive merits of each of the various strains
and crosses remained the same throughout
the different seasons. It is interesting to note
that the variation in growth was greater
among seasons than among the different
strains and crosses, indicating the effect of
hot weather on the ability of the birds to

Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station,
The Value of 20-, 30-, and 40-Percent
Protein Supplements for Wintering
Heifer Calves, Bulletin No. B-437, by
A. B. Nelson and others.
Response of Winter Oat Varieties from
Winter and Early Spring Seeding, Bul­
letin No. B-435, by A. M. Schlehuber
and Roy M. Oswalt.
Copies of the bulletins may be obtained
by request to the publishers.
The Agricultural News Letter is prepared in
the Research Department under the direction
o f J. Z. R owe, Agricultural Economist.