Canola meal can be a major component of a nutritionally balanced diet for all types of poultry. In addition to its high protein content and excellent amino acid profile, canola meal is a great alternative or complement to other protein ingredients. Recent academic studies have demonstrated that canola meal can provide consistent value for poultry producers. Some of the value canola meal provides lies in these attributes:

  • Excellent amino acid profile and availability, right in line with the needs of the birds;
  • Excellent source of sulfur-containing amino acids;
  • Economic advantage when formulated on a digestible amino acid basis;
  • Additional energy with expeller canola meal, allowing for ready inclusion in certain diets (see Table 1); and
  • Enhanced digestibility with carbohydrate-digesting enzymes used extensively by the poultry feed industry.

Table 1

In addition, a large amount of research effort has been invested in determining the ileal digestibility of amino acids for broiler chickens, laying hens, turkeys and even ducks.

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Are you currently limiting inclusion of canola meal in poultry diets due to palatability and feed intake concerns? Perceived limitations regarding palatability of canola meal are being laid to rest by research scientists and industry professionals. The glucosinolate content in Canadian canola meal is currently so low (4.2 µmol/g) that any negative effects would only be observed if canola meal was included at levels far surpassing the protein requirements of the birds. As well, brown-shelled egg layers can enjoy the full benefits of canola meal as the incidence of fishy taint in eggs has disappeared with the currently available genetic strains in Canada. Studies have shown that when you formulate your diets on a digestible amino acid basis, you can readily up your inclusion levels to test the full benefits of canola meal’s powerful amino acid profile.



Two recent studies have shown that canola meal can be effectively fed in broiler diets at up to 30 percent inclusion level without negatively affecting growth performance, as long as the diets are formulated on a digestible amino acid basis (Newkirk and Classen, 2002; Ramesh, et al., 2006). Although the energy value of solvent-extracted canola meal is lower than some other vegetable proteins, such as soybean meal, this is offset by the lower cost per gram of key available amino acids and phosphorous, allowing nutritionists to consider greater dietary inclusions of canola meal in broiler diets. As always, care must be exercised to ensure that nutrient requirements of the bird are met, including available amino acids, energy and minerals (anionic balance). Often, fat is added to elevate the energy content of the diet, but expeller-pressed canola meal can also be used, as the fat content is naturally higher. An example of recent results are provided below (Table 2 or 3).




Canola meal is a commonly fed and economically effective feed ingredient in commercial egg layer diets. It is not unusual for digestibility values to be higher in older birds than younger birds for many ingredients, especially after the starter phase; however, this is not an issue for pullets and layers. Because lower-energy diets are usual for layers, this means that canola meal can be used very effectively in diets for laying hens.

Feeding canola meal to laying hens supports peak production, with no loss in egg size. Because hens do not need as much protein in their diets as broilers, practical feeding levels of canola meal rarely exceed 20 percent of the diet. Problems once associated with canola meal, such as hemorrhagic liver disease or fishy taste, no longer are issues that reduce the use of canola meal, as Canadian canola meal contains, on average, 4.2 µmol/g of glucosinolates, a level that is considered quite negligible.

Figure 1



Canola meal is an excellent source of protein for growing turkeys, and is commonly included in grower and finisher diets throughout Western Canada. Because of the high methionine and cysteine content, which is desired for feathering, the sulfur levels of diets containing canola meal tend to be high. Nutritionists have had good success when diets are balanced for electrolytes. Research conducted in a joint Canadian-Polish Research effort showed that up to 18 percent of low-glucosinolate rapeseed (canola) meal supported growth and feed conversion in turkeys beginning at day one of life.

Table 3



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