New canola variety could open up livestock feed market

Feed trials have confirmed that a new canola trait developed by Dow AgroSciences results in a meal that can be substituted for soybean meal in hog and poultry diets.

“This really gives us a way to reposition canola,” said Dave Dzisiak, commercial leader of grains and oils with Dow.

“It really opens a brand new huge market for canola that wasn’t very accessible to us before.”

The ProPround trait, which was 15 years in development, produces a meal that is closer in quality to soybean meal than canola meal.

Dow’s high oleic canola oil made from its Nexera varieties will soon be facing stiff competition from high oleic soybeans. Dzisiak said having a meal that’s comparable to soybeans will help the company maintain production premiums for growing Nexera varieties.

The knock on canola meal has been that it is low in protein and high in fibre. It is suitable for dairy cow rations, where it is fed to two out of every three U.S. dairy cows, but it is a poor fit in hog and poultry rations.

Canola meal is used in some swine rations but only at a five percent inclusion rate.

ProPound meal has 44 percent protein content compared to 37 percent in commodity canola meal and 46 percent in soybean meal.

“We were also able to significantly reduce some particular fibre fractions within the seed,” said Dzisiak.

There has been a 35 percent reduction in one particular fibre family.

The result is a canola meal that has 20 percent more protein and 10 percent more energy than regular canola meal.

ProPound was tested in feed trials by Hans Stein and Carl Parsons, two leading animal nutrition researchers at the University of Illinois.

“(They) were able to show that ProPound could replace all of the soybean meal in a swine ration without any impact on animal performance,” said Dzisiak.

As well, it could do so at a cost of $3 to $5 per tone lower than soybean meal.

“You can have a material improvement in the profitability of a swine producer,” he said.

Florian Possberg, chair of the Saskatchewan Pork Development Board and president of Polar Pork Farms, said ProPound could be a “big deal” for the hog sector.

Polar Pork Farms uses canola meal in its finishing and dry sow rations because it is two-thirds the price of soybean meal. It can be fed to older animals, but there is not enough protein in the meal for younger hogs.

“We would love to have a product that we could use in all our rations, including nursery and lactation rations,” he said.

Possberg believes the product could save swine farmers as much as $20 per tonne in baby pig rations and $5 per tonne in lactation rations.

“That would be a real advantage,” he said.

There would be significant transportation savings because there are so many crushers located in Saskatchewan instead of trucking soybeans in from the United States.

It would also be far more convenient to work with one protein ingredient and kick soybeans completely out of the rations.

“Unless this new canola meal is priced way up there, it would really work for us,” said Possberg.

Dzisiak said the price has yet to be determined but it would be an uphill battle to displace soybean meal in animal rations without a compelling value proposition for hog and poultry producers.

“You can’t go in and say, ‘here’s canola meal at the same price as soy.’ We needed to have a real incentive in there.”

Chickens are more sensitive to canola meal. The University of Illinois researchers found they could use ProPound at up to a 24 percent inclusion rate without any effect on bird performance. The cost savings were similar to those in the hog trials.

Dow also conducted feeding trials on turkeys that were led by Sally Noll of the University of Minnesota. She found ProPound could displace all of the soybean meal in turkey rations.

“That might be where we have some of the best value,” said Dzisiak.

It’s because soybean meal causes gastrointestinal issues in turkeys if there is too much of it in a ration, so turkey farmers have to incorporate other higher-cost protein ingredients in their rations. ProPound could displace those higher-cost protein ingredients.

Dow has been in some early outreach discussions with end use customers who are excited by the prospect of the first significant new protein ingredient since distillers grain hit the market.

The company is working with an undisclosed Canadian crusher that will be producing large samples of ProPound meal to be tested by customers this fall.

Dow has introduced the trait into one of its Nexera lines and will be contracting more than 100,000 acres with growers this fall. The trait has been fully approved by regulators.

It will expand into commercial scale production of the crop next year. The trait will be included in both Roundup Ready and Clearfield lines of its latest Nexera hybrids. The goal is to eventually include the trait in all Nexera varieties.

Dzisiak said the canola industry needs a new market for its meal because the product is reaching the saturation point with the dairy industry.

The Canola Council of Canada has set a target of 25 million tonnes of canola production by 2025, which represents a 50 percent growth over current production.

Canada’s crush capacity has doubled over the last five years, and Dzisiak expects it to grow another 25 to 50 percent.

That means crushers will have to find a home for a lot more meal, and ProPound will help them do that, he said.


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