The Q&A with dairy nutritionist Dr. Essi Evans

Dr. Essi Evans, a dairy nutritionist, loves canola meal, and she was won over by the facts. Read on to learn more about why Dr. Evans thinks you should be feeding canola meal to your cows.

Canolamazing (CM): Why do you believe canola meal is a great protein option for dairy cows?
Essi Evans (EE): Canola meal was designed for the dairy cow. Cows do not hesitate to eat it, so that is one hurdle out of the way. The metabolizable protein content of canola meal is high; that means it is a great source of bypass protein. (Bypass protein is the protein available to the cow for milk production.) The amino acid profile is superior to most other plant proteins, so we do not need to over-supply metabolizable protein. Canola meal is a good value, all things considered.

CM: I’ve heard of soybean meal and DDGs before, but not very much about canola meal. Is canola meal new?
EE: Canola meal was developed by standard plant-breeding techniques about 40 years ago, so compared to corn and soybeans, yes, it is new! The amount of canola meal available was limited until recently. In the last decade, human nutritionists have started to understand that certain oils support health. Because canola oil is superior to many other vegetable oils, more canola seed is being produced to make more canola oil, and canola meal is a result, as soybean meal is a result of soy oil production.

CM: How does canola meal stack up against soybean meal or DDGs?
EE: As a percent of the total protein, canola meal has more bypass protein than soybean meal. So, there is less protein wasted with canola meal and more protein available to cows for milk production.

DDGs provide protein, but the amino acid profile is poor. Thus, more metabolizable protein needs to be supplied with this protein source, meaning more waste when feeding DDGS.

So, canola meal is used more efficiently by dairy cows than either of those sources. Interestingly, studies have shown that canola meal is the ideal companion protein for DDGs. Face it, DDGs are readily available, and are a good value. Canola meal allows us to optimize their use in dairy diets — a win-win!

CM: What are the benefits of feeding canola meal?
EE: There are quite a few benefits, including:

  • Canola meal is easy to use and mixes well in rations.
  • It’s an economical source of bypass protein.
  • It has an excellent amino acid profile, including being high in methionine.

Most studies conducted in trial to date show that milk production is maintained when compared to other protein sources, and, in fact, several recent studies concluded that milk production increased by about 2 pounds on average!

CM: Where can I learn more about canola meal and if it’s right for my operation?
EE: You can use the Dairy Feed Calcualtor on the Canolamazing site. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your nutritionist what they think, and work with them on your dairy ration options.