Camelina meal has been approved in Canada for use in broiler chicken feed, paving the way for development of a processing plant in Saskatchewan.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved feeding cold-pressed, non-solvent extracted camelina meal to chickens at up to 12 percent inclusion.
“It’s a huge step forward for the crop,” said Jack Grushcow, chief executive officer of Smart Earth Seeds, an affiliate of Linnaeus Plant Sciences.
It means the company can now pursue building a crush facility in Canada rather than exporting the product to the United States for processing.
Smart Earth Seeds ships all of the camelina it contracts in Canada through its partner, Chaplin Grain Corp. in Chaplin, Sask., to Willamette Biomass Processors in Oregon for processing.
It is a costly and frustrating endeavour.
“First of all, rail is a disaster, and for a small company, trying to get cars is a challenge,” said Grushcow.
“Our margins, that are not huge to begin with, are getting beat up by the transport costs.”
The company has already talked with two Saskatchewan communities and Western Economic Diversification Canada about building a crush facility capable of processing 50,000 tonnes a year of camelina.
“We expect we’re going to be putting together some concrete proposals in the next four to six months,” said Grushcow.
Smart Earth Seeds is working with a feed formulator that views camelina as a good substitute for flax in feed rations because it contains omega 3 oil but stores better than flax.
He expects the broiler chicken approval to be followed by approval for layer hens and then aquaculture feed.
The company hopes to contract 100,000 acres of the crop in a few years. Growers have been slow to sign contracts for this year, but Grushcow anticipates 7,500 to 15,000 acres.
A Saskatchewan plant could be processing camelina within 18 months if everything goes according to plan.