Canola meal in cows’ diet beats the competition

Recent studies show canola meal has higher energy value than previously believed and has beneficial amino acids.  |  File photo

RED DEER — The value of canola meal in dairy cow diets may have been underestimated, says a feed expert.

Tim Mutsvangwa, a professor of ruminant nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, said cows produce more milk when canola meal is in their diet and it also contains essential amino acids and higher amounts of fibre than other protein sources.

Speaking to the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar March 8, Mutsvangwa said new research and meta-analysis of various studies involving canola meal versus soybean meal and other protein sources show canola meal’s benefits.

A Canadian analysis of 49 such studies indicated canola meal in feed, at up to 20 percent of dietary dry matter, can increase milk production.

“Cows fed CM (canola meal) as a protein source produce, on average, 1.4 kilograms per day more milk compared with cows fed other protein sources, and .7 kg per day more milk compared with cows fed soybean meal,” he said in his analysis.

The Canola Council of Canada set up a research cluster to examine the feed value of canola meal relative to other vegetable proteins, said Mutsvangwa.

Independent scientists conducted six studies over four or five years, and all showed higher milk yield in cows given canola meal in their diets compared to corn dried distillers grain, wheat DDGs and soybean meal.

“That significant response in terms of milk yield with canola meal indicated that for those … high-producing dairy cows, probably they have a higher requirement for metabolizable protein, and canola meal might be supplying that metabolizable protein.”

Mutsvangwa said cows have greater feed intake when canola meal is included and eat an average one to 1.2 kilograms more per day compared to feeds with soymeal or wheat DDGs.

Canola meal is a good source of essential amino acids, he added, and has a higher energy value than previously thought.

About 90 percent of the canola meal produced in Canada is ex-ported to the United States.

The meal is the second most widely used protein feed ingredient, behind soybean meal.

The canola council funded some of Mutsvangwa’s research, but he told seminar participants that his findings are not a sales pitch for canola meal.

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