Gossypol compromises early embryo development in heifers, according to research in the August Journal of Dairy Science. Embryos collected from post-pubertal heifers fed a diet high in gossypol had fewer live cells and were smaller in diameter than embryos from heifers fed a moderate level of gossypol or no gossypol.

The moderate diet contained 17.8 milligrams of dietary free gossypol per kilogram of bodyweight per day. The high diet contained gossypol levels of 36.8 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight. “These amounts resemble those consumed by lactating cows when fed diets containing cottonseed products,” says Jose Santos, study co-author and associate professor at the University of Florida.

Uterine and plasma gossypol concentrations also increased with increasing levels of gossypol in the diet.