Soybeans are processed to produce soybean oil and isolated protein for human consumption. The resulting soybean meal, originally considered a by-product, is now considered a primary product. The soybean hull, removed during oil extraction, is now the major by-product. Soybean hulls contain 10 12% protein and high amounts of fiber. However, there is essentially no lignin in the soyhull, so the fiber is very highly digestible in beef and dairy cattle[1,2] diets. In contrast, cereal grains (which contain starch) are digested rapidly by cattle, producing volatile fatty acids that lower ruminal pH and inhibit fiber digestion (negative associative effect). Although soyhulls are highly digested, the rate of digestion is less rapid than that for starch, thereby producing more moderate pH values and less negative associative effects. Further, the same microorganisms digest the fiber in soyhulls and in the forage being supplemented. Soyhulls are an excellent energy supplement for beef cows or calves and dairy cows. Soyhulls are of benefit in a dairy-cow diet by reducing starch without decreasing diet energy density.
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