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High-protein canola: New protein source for pigs, turkeys

Research suggests high-protein canola meal can completely replace soybean meal in swine diets.


High-protein canola meal can completely replace soybean meal in pig and turkey diets and achieve the same outcome, according to the University of Illinois College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences. ProPound, a newly identified high-protein canola, contains 44 percent crude protein compared to 37 percent crude protein in conventional canola.

“Pigs are quite efficient at converting nutrients and energy in high-protein canola meal,” says Neil Jaworski, a doctoral student in the Hans H. Stein Monogastric Nutrition Laboratory at the University of Illinois and co-author of the study. “When high-protein canola meal replaced 33, 66 or 100 percent of soybean meal in growing-finishing pig diets, the gain-to-feed ratio was unaffected. This indicates that grow-finish pigs are just as efficient at converting high-protein canola meal as they are at converting soybean meal.”

Given that the global demand for vegetable protein in animal feed is predicted to increase by 37 percent from 2013 to 2023, these findings could be a “breakthrough” for the livestock feed industry.

“ProPound canola can offer the animal producer a material decrease in feed costs and at the same time achieve the same animal performance,” says David Dzisiak, commercial leader for grains and oils at Dow AgroSciences, adding that the current cost of commodity canola meal is about 30 percent less than soybean meal.

High-protein canola versus conventional canola

Canola meal is a widely-traded protein source for the dairy industry; however, it has a lower crude protein value than soybeans. Historically, it has been fed at lower inclusion rates than soybean meal in the diets of monogastric animals, such as swine and turkeys. The higher concentration of fiber in canola makes protein less accessible and digestible than the protein in soybean meal in monogastric diets.

Contrary to the 37 percent crude protein in conventional canola meal, high-protein canola meal contains approximately 44 percent crude protein due to a lower concentration of fiber. It has the same amino acid profile of canola but the digestibility is higher, providing greater energy to the ration.

As the canola plant grows, it partitions its energy to focus on producing protein, oil and carbohydrates — making it more balanced.

Canola meal The hulls on high-protein canola are thinner, which lowers the fiber content and allows for higher portions of available protein and oil. | The Canola Council of Canada

Dzisak explains: “The university studies show that high-protein canola meal provides more protein and more digestible amino acids for growing pigs than conventional canola meal — but not as much as soybean meal.”

Canola meal will never be the size of soybean meal, Dzisiak says, “but there will be markets where it will be of great value.”

Feed adjustments for replacing soybean meal with high-protein canola

Nursery pigs showed an increase in gain-to-feed ratio when fed high-protein canola meal. The inclusion rates of 10, 20, 30 or 40 percent of high-protein canola meal for nursery pig diets linearly increased the gain-to-feed ratio from 0.60 to 0.64 — this was greater compared with the 0.59 gain-to-feed ratio of nursery pigs that were fed a control diet of corn and soybean meal, according to the study, "Effects of high-protein or conventional canola meal on growth performance, organ weights, bone ash, and blood characteristics of weanling pig."

“Canola meal is a better source of methionine, calcium and phosphorus compared with soybean meal,” says Neil. Because high-protein canola meal contains greater concentrations of calcium and phosphorus than in soybean meal, diets may need to be adjusted to reduce the amount inorganic calcium and phosphorus that is added.

“When greater amounts of canola meal replace soybean meal in pig diets the most important adjustment to be made is metabolizable energy,” says Jaworski.

High-protein canola meal contains 2,470 kcal/kg of metabolizable energy compared with 3,375 kcal/kg in soybean meal. The lower amounts of acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber give high-protein canola meal slightly more metabolizable energy than in conventional canola meal, which is 2,305 kcal/kg metabolizable energy.

Therefore, as more canola meal is added to the diet, fat may need to be added to increase the amount of metabolizable energy.

Jaworski says that synthetic lysine may also need to be added to diets with greater amounts of high-protein canola.

“The concentration of standardized ileal digestible lysine in high-protein canola meal is less compared with soybean meal,” he says. “On the other hand, the concentration of standardized ileal digestible methionine in high-protein canola meal is greater compared with soybean meal and, therefore, the amount of synthetic methionine added to diets may be reduced when you replace soybean meal with high-protein canola meal.”

High-protein canola opens the market for pigs, turkeys

While the lower amount of crude protein in canola hasn’t been a barrier in the past due to its prevalence in the dairy industry, the increase in digestibility for monogastrics may open a new door to other industries as the demand for protein in animal feed increases.

“Increased crude protein in canola meal is good news for canola growers and exporters,” says Bruce Jowett, vice president of market development with the Canola Council of Canada. “Our strategic plan at the Canola Council of Canada is to increase canola production to 26 million metric tons by the year 2025, along with our continued expansion of the processing industry.”

Canola planter The Canola Council of Canada plans on expanding canola production by 50 percent by 2025. | The Canola Council of Canada

Jowett says that while canola meal has been a success in the dairy industry, it is important for the canola industry to find other avenues to meet the growing supply.

“An advanced, cost-effective, high-quality protein option for the feed industry serves to open new markets, such as swine, and the future demand for canola,” he says.

Next ten years: canola production to increase

“High-protein canola meal is something feed mills should keep an eye on in the coming years,” says Jowett. “There will be an increase in demand for protein meals within the livestock feed industry and canola production in Canada will continue to rise, which will lead to more domestic crush into canola meal.”

While conventional canola meal fits very well in a dairy ration, due to its high rumen bypass protein and favorable amino acid profile for milk production, Jowett says that high-protein canola meal will be more closely related to soybean meal in monogastric diets and will be a truly competitive substitute to soybean meal.


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