Canola meal may improve productivity and efficiency in dairy cows

Row of cows in a stable.

New research at the University of Nevada and University of Wisconsin supports use of canola meal over soybean meal in dairy cow diets. The research team demonstrated that canola meal can replace soybean meal and improve the productivity of dairy cows. This research has recently been published in the Journal of Dairy Science.
Historically, soybean meal has been the most common protein source in dairy cattle production. In recent years, increased production of canola has led to a greater availability of canola meal as a protein supplement in livestock diets.

Until now, canola meal has traded at a 35 percent discount to soybean meal in markets around the world because of its inferior protein levels.
“Canola meal has lower levels of crude protein compared to soybean meal, which has contributed to lower feed inclusion rates in the past, but for a dairy cow, it’s not necessarily about how much crude protein is in the ingredient but what that protein is made of,” says Carson Callum, canola meal manager at the Canola Council of Canada (CCC).
These new findings show that diet formulation using canola meal instead of soybean meal at the same level of dietary crude protein will increase milk yield and milk protein content. It can also increase nitrogen utilization, potentially lowering environmental nitrogen excretion.
“Due to increases in feed costs, nutritionists will need to find alternatives in their feed formulations. This study shows that canola meal is an exceptional protein source and alternative to soybean meal,” says Dr. Essi Evans, of Essi Evans Technical Advisory Services Inc. “Canola meal can be used in low protein dairy diets to support high levels of milk production due to its lower protein degradation and a favorable amino acid profile.”
Research by Broderick and colleagues also supports a recent meta-analysis conducted at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Sherbrooke, Quebec by Martineau et al., 2013. Reviewing 49 different diets, canola meal improved milk yield by 0.64 kg per day and increased protein yield when compared to other protein ingredients fed at the same level.
“Research like this will help Canada’s canola industry raise the value of canola meal, and it also helps dairy farms increase their overall production efficiency,” Callum says.
The strategic plan of Canada Canola Council is to ensure the canola industry’s continued growth, demand, stability and success achieving 52 bushels per acre to meet global market demand of 26 million metric tonnes by the year 2025.
Source: Canola Council