You value a diet for cows that translates into efficient milk production. Canola meal’s balanced amino acid profile, along with its high level of bypass protein, combine to help cows produce not only more milk, but high-quality milk.

There are many reasons why canola meal is a great protein source for dairy cows. Recent academic studies have demonstrated that canola meal provides consistent value for dairy producers. The following are some ways canola meal provides value:

  • Cows fed canola meal as their primary protein source averaged 2.2 pounds more milk per day when compared to cows fed primarily soybean meal.
  • Canola meal is a great source of bypass protein, meaning more protein makes it through the rumen to be used for milk production.
  • Cows find canola meal highly palatable. Recent studies have demonstrated that cows will readily consume 20 percent of their diet as canola meal.
  • Canola meal has been proven to pair well with high-forage diets, as well as with a variety of grains and starch levels.
  • Canola meal is a rich source of phosphorus, often a costly required nutrient.

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When picking protein sources for dairy rations, the stress has historically been on the crude-protein levels of protein sources. More protein is always better, right? Not necessarily. Cows need the right protein, in the right place. When these requirements are met, the cow uses protein in the most efficient way possible, meaning less protein ends up in the manure pile. Fortunately, canola meal provides the right protein, in the right place, at the right time.

Canola meal has more rumen undegraded protein, or bypass protein, than many other frequently used protein sources. When protein enters a cow’s rumen, rumen microbes break down, or degrade, a fraction of the available protein. The remaining protein bypasses the cow’s rumen and becomes available to satisfy the cow’s amino acid requirements. This means that while it may not always beat other protein sources in crude protein levels, a high portion of canola meal’s protein makes it through the cow’s rumen, putting the protein right where the cow needs it to produce milk. See how canola meal stacks up against soybean meal when it comes to bypass protein in the table below. Feeding canola meal means better feeding efficiency and higher milk production for dairy operations.



Another way canola meal provides value is through its amino acid profile. A high level of bypass protein combined with canola meal’s unique amino acid profile not only helps cows optimize milk production, but also supports the production of high-quality milk.

Canola meal’s amino acid profile helps explain the consistent milk yield response when canola meal is included in rations. In a summary of 24 research trials with canola meal included in dairy diets, the average milk production response was an additional 2.2 pounds of milk per day, per cow. With results like that, canola meal is a must-try for all dairy producers looking to increase profits and efficiencies in their operation.

Another way we can look at this is through canola meal’s milk protein score. Feed ingredients are often given milk protein scores as another way to measure their value. The milk protein score takes the amino acid profile of protein sources and compares it to the amino acid composition of milk itself. Canola meal has the highest milk protein score among vegetable-based protein sources, including soybean meal. A high milk protein score equals high-quality milk.




Canola meal’s bypass protein levels and great milk protein score combine to support high levels of components in milk. Milk components, or the fat and protein portions of milk, are important because they are indicative of high-quality milk, and could mean more milk check premiums for dairy producers.

As the table below illustrates, daily protein and fat yields increased when canola meal replaced either soybean meal or cottonseed meal in diets for high-producing dairy cows.

000320-CAN Tables_k24

Another study also illustrated canola meal’s value when it comes to milk components, as compared to soybean meal:

000320-CAN Tables_k24-performance of dairy

These results are consistent with newer research that now recognizes that the soluble fraction of protein meals is not all degraded in the rumen, and some of the soluble protein from both soybean meal and canola meal will bypass the rumen. For more information, you can check out recent research abstracts and visit the Dairy Blog.


Want more information on canola meal and dairy cows? Check out some of the dairy-specific resources below:

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