A new era of opportunity has emerged for Canadian canola meal, which could also be an opportunity for U.S. canola production, as a premium, highly sought feed ingredient across livestock sectors around the world.

One of the keys to unlock its full potential lies in groundbreaking scientific advances to understand and capture the hidden nutritive power of dietary fibre, said Bogdan Slominski, Ph.D.,  of the University of Manitoba, a featured speaker at the International Rapeseed Congress, July 5-9 in Saskatoon.

There are three keys to unlocking the potential--first being plant breeding and the other two in processing of the canola. Seed available to growers for producing superior yellow-seeded canola is necessary.  Utilizing new dehulling options and harnessing the power of new multi-carbohydrase enzyme formulations designed to break down fiber and enhance nutrient utilization for monogastric animals such as pigs and poultry are the next necessary keys.

“The dietary fiber story is really where a lot of the secret lies to truly maximize the feed value of canola meal,” said Slominski, a leading expert in carbohydrate chemistry and new feed ingredient evaluations. “The more we understand about the composition of dietary fiber and the options to address it, the more success we can achieve to benefit producers, industry and the end-use customer. Today is an exciting time with lots of advances showing excellent promise.”

As canola production has rocketed ahead over the past decade, primarily in Canada but also in the U.S. and other key jurisdictions, the potential has risen for more livestock operations to take advantage of canola meal as a valuable feed protein source. The main advantages of canola meal typically include good protein content, good amino acid profile, high oil content and a complex carbohydrate matrix, along with good selenium and phosphorous content. Like many vegetable protein sources, canola meal is limiting in lysine but has high levels of methionine and cysteine.

However dietary fiber also is a significant component that presents an ‘X Factor’ with implications for nutritional value, processing approaches and feeding strategies, noted Slominski.

“Our latest knowledge from research studies confirms the dietary fiber component of canola meal is actually quite high,” he explained. “This is a consequence of the small size and also the high oil content of canola seed, which is roughly 42 to 45 percent. In fact, the neutral detergent fiber and total dietary fiber values of canola meal are higher than those of soybean meal.”

Certain processing approaches such as pre-press solvent extraction and use of the desolventizer-toaster can further increase the dietary fiber content, he said. Based on the recent surveys conducted in Canada, the content of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and total dietary fiber (TDF) of canola meal averaged 29.6 and 38.0 percent dry matter (DM), respectively, and ranged from 27.1 to 33.4 percent for NDF, and from 34.8 to 41.9 percent for TDF.

However science and technology advances are set to help manage this component, to support higher demand and value for canola meal, said Slominski.

Superior quality characteristics of newly developed yellow-seeded B. napus canola and canola-quality B. juncea mustard have been demonstrated, he said. Although canola meal from these sources is significantly lower in dietary fiber, studies have shown similar growth performance parameters in broiler chickens and turkeys to those fed conventional canola meal and soybean meal, when diets were formulated based on digestible amino acids and available energy contents.

Slominski said, “This indicates that all types of canola meal could effectively replace soybean meal in poultry rations.”