Feeding Edible Beans and Soybeans to Cattle

Edible beans (e.g. navy, pinto, kidney) that are shrunken, broken and/or discolored will not make the grade for human consumption and may make their way into cattle rations.  These cull beans may also contain stems, dirt and other types of contamination.  The nutrient value of all edible beans is similar – approximately 80% TDN, 23% crude protein and 2% fat. Cull beans can be fed at 10-20% of the ration dry matter.  Higher levels have been reported to cause diarrhea.  Adapt cattle slowly to diets containing cull edible beans.

Producers are currently reporting that this year’s soybeans are very immature and have a high level of sclerotinia.   Reports indicate that very green samples (80-90% green) have a nutrient content similar to mature soybeans – about 41% crude protein and 18% fat.   Due to the high fat content, the amount of soybeans in the diet needs to be limited to keep the total fat content in the ration to less than 5%.  Higher levels of fat can decrease fibre digestion in the rumen.  In dairy diets, raw soybeans should be limited to about 4 lbs/day.  Roasting soybeans increases the bypass value of the protein and decreases anti-nutritional factors.  Roasted soybeans can be fed to dairy cows at a higher rate – up to 6 lbs/day.  Raw soybeans can be fed to beef cattle at 10 % of the diet – approximately 1.5 lbs/day for 600 lb growing cattle and 3 lbs/day for bred cows.  Soybeans can be fed whole or just broken into halves or quarters.  Avoid fine grinding.  Sclerotinia is not associated with health problems in cattle. 

 Source:  Nutrition Update Volume 15 No.2, November 2004