New research on canola meal means swine nutritionists now have more options, and pork producers can benefit from reduced feed costs while still maintaining animal performance.

Canola meal: the protein source for today’s swine
The amino acid profile and protein content of canola meal make it an economical choice for swine operations. Research also shows that weight gain, feed consumption and feed efficiency are not compromised.


*Brittany Dyck is with the Canola Council of Canada, and Dr. Essi Evans is with Technical Advisory Services Inc. 


Canola meal has been receiving significant attention recently from researchers in North America as an economical protein and amino acid source for lactation, reproduction and all phases of growth in swine.  Canola meal was developed in the 1970s from rapeseed meal to maintain the excellent amino acid profile of rapeseed meal, while at the same time reducing the nonnutritive components that restricted the use of rapeseed meal.

The use of highly accurate feed formulation systems requires highly accurate nutrient values for ingredients. Unfortunately, until recently, many of the nutrient values available for canola meal were obtained from older, out-of-date seed varieties, including data from meals still in transition from rapeseed meal.

Recently, Adewole, et al. (2016) published results for the complete nutritional characterization of canola meal, based on a survey of 11 canola meal processors, and obtained over four years (2011–2014) (three samples/processor/year). Some of the results are provided in Table 1. As the data show, the highest component of canola meal is protein. The ether extract level is higher than many other oilseed meals. Phytase enzymes are required to take full advantage of the high phosphorus content of the meal. The primary carbohydrates in the meal are sugars and neutral detergent fiber, with a major part of the neutral detergent fiber being composed of lignin and polyphenols. 

Of importance is the low glucosinolate content of the meal. Current recommendations suggest that glucosinolates should be below 2.4 µmol/g of diet as fed for pigs. Thus, diets would need to contain more than 58 percent canola meal to attain this limit; so, for all practical purposes, this is no longer a concern.

Table 1. Values for the nutrient composition of canola meal from a recent survey (Adewole, et al., 2016)


Dry Matter

12% Moisture

Crude Protein, %



Ether Extract, %



Ash, %



     Total Phosphorus, %



     Non-phytate Phosphorus, %






     Sugars, %



     Oligosaccharides, %



      Total Neutral Detergent Fiber, %



            Lignin + Polyphenols, %



Glucosinolates, µmol/g



The amino acid profile of canola meal is of particular importance in the feeding of pigs. The survey reviewed above (Adewole, et al., 2016) also provided complete amino acid values. Interestingly, whether using the NRC (2012) or the European INRA model (van Milgen and Dourmad, 2015) to assess amino acid requirements, canola meal stacks up almost perfectly (Table 2), particularly if lysine, the first limiting amino acid, augments the canola meal. This means that pigs can use canola amino acids efficiently to support tissue gain.

 Table 2. Ideal amino acid profile based on two models, and values for canola meal (% of lysine)


Model Used

Canola Meal

Amino Acid(s)






Methionine +Cysteine


















Phenylalanine + Tyrosine









Lysine content of canola meal increased by 9% (lysine *1.09).

Consistency of the meal

The survey revealed that there was also some consistent variation in the nutritive value of the meals, based on the location of the processing plants. For example, crude protein varied from 40.2 to 43.7 percent of dry matter over the course of the study. The differences may be due to the varying climatic and soil conditions in the various growing areas. Carrera, et al. (2011) found wide differences in the amino acid composition of soybean meal that could be largely explained by growing conditions. Likewise, Grieshop, et al. (2003) found that soybean meal produced in the United States varied in crude protein from 48.2 to 56.2 percent of the dry matter.

The importance of this level of variation might not be of grave concern for formulation purposes. In a recent study, Wang, et al. (2016) provided five diets to pigs for four weeks after weaning at 19 days of age. One diet contained 20 percent soybean meal as the control, and four diets contained 20 percent canola meal, selected to provide extremes in range of nutrient composition. The canola meal diets resulted in lower total tract digestibility of dry matter and crude protein as compared to the soybean meal, but there were no differences in digestibility between the four canola meal diets. The replacement of 20 percent soybean meal with 20 percent canola meal from any of the four samples did not affect weight gain, feed consumption or feed efficiency.

Inclusion level

In early studies conducted with canola meal, there were generally upper limits on the level of dietary inclusion. With the very low glucosinolate levels in the meal that is now available to the feed industry, these recommendations have gone by the wayside.  

Weaned pigs are generally the most sensitive to nutrient imbalances. Landero, et al. (2011) provided diets to weaned pigs with an initial body weight of 8 kg that contained 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 percent solvent extracted canola meal. The diets were balanced for net energy and ileal digestible amino acids. There were no differences in feed intake, daily gain or feed efficiency for any of the treatments in the 28-day study. Smit, et al. (2014) provided pigs (34 kg of body weight at start) with diets that contained 10, 20 or 30 percent canola meal. These diets contained more protein than usually provided to grow-finish pigs. Feed intakes averaged 2.64, 2.57 and 2.50, and average daily gains averaged 0.98, 0.97 and 0.95 kg/day for the duration of the study. Gain-to-feed values averaged 0.38, 0.39 and 0.40, with 10, 20 and 30 percent canola meal in the diets.

Sows have also been shown to perform well when diets contain as much as 30 percent canola meal (Velayudhan and Nyachoti, 2016) in lactation diets. There were no differences in milk composition, piglet growth or piglet survival when sows were given diets containing 0, 15 or 30 percent canola meal. As well, there were no treatment differences in sow body weight or backfat thickness, or weaning-to-estrus interval.

Continuous improvement

Canola breeders have continued to improve the quality and yield of the meal and oil that are produced by the canola seed. Recently, Dow AgroSciences introduced an advanced canola meal, ProPound,TM a variety that contains more crude protein (44 percent as fed) and less neutral detergent fiber (19 percent as fed) than conventional canola meal, making it a closer match to soybean meal. The feeding value of this meal for pigs has been well researched.

In a 91-day growth study, pigs were given diets in which 33, 66 or 100 percent of the supplemental soybean meal was replaced by high-protein or conventional canola meal. Live-performance parameters were similar for all treatments. Table 3 provides results for the 100 percent supplementation rates for three proteins. Carcass quality was not compromised. Pederson, et al. (2016) provided diets with 20 or 30 percent conventional or high-protein CM to weaned pigs, and demonstrated no differences in performance compared to conventional soybean meal diets. These results demonstrate that ProPound canola meal can provide excellent feeding results, at lower levels of inclusion than conventional canola meal.

Table 3. Performance results for pigs given soybean meal (SBM), high-protein canola meal (HP) or conventional (CV) canola meal as their only supplemental protein source (Little, et al., 2015).





Average daily gain, kg




Average daily feed intake, kg








Carcass yield, %




Loin eye area, cm2





New research on conventional canola meal, as well as newly developed ProPound, means swine nutritionists now have more options; and, swine producers can benefit from reduced feed costs while still maintaining animal performance. Visit to learn more.

References cited

Adewole DI, Rogiewicz A, Dyck B and Slominski BA. Chemical and nutritive characteristics of canola meal from Canadian processing facilities. Anim Feed Sci and Technol 2016;222:17–30.

Carrera CS, Reynoso CM, Funes GJ, et al. Amino acid composition of soybean seeds as affected by climatic variables. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira 2011;46(12):1579–1587.

Grieshop CM, Kadzere CT, Clapper GM, et al. Chemical and nutritional characteristics of United States soybeans and soybean meals. J Agric and Food Chem 2003;51(26):7684–7691.

Landero JL, Beltranena E, Cervantes M, et al. The effect of feeding solvent-extracted canola meal on growth performance and diet nutrient digestibility in weaned pigs. Anim Feed Sci and Technol 2011;170(1–2):136–140.

Little KL, Bohrer BM, Maison T, et al. Effects of feeding canola meal from high-protein or conventional varieties of canola seeds on growth performance, carcass characteristics and cutability of pigs. J Anim Sci 2015;93(3):1284–1297.

NRC. Nutrient requirements of swine. Eleventh revised edition. 2012. Washington, DC, USA.

Pedersen TF, Liu Y, Stein HH,  2016. Effects of inclusion of canola meal in weanling pig diets containing different concentrations of energy. J Anim Sci 2016;94:467–467 (Abstr 0973). 

Smit MN, Seneviratne RW, Young MG, et al. Feeding Brassica juncea or Brassica napus canola meal at increasing dietary inclusions to growing-finishing gilts and barrows. Anim Feed Sci and Technol 2014;198:176–185.

van Milgen J and Dourmad JY. Concept and application of ideal protein for pigs. J Anim Sci and Biotechnol 2015;6(1):1.

Velayudhan DE, and Nyachoti CM. Effect of high dietary canola meal inclusion in lactating sows on nutrient digestibility and sow and piglet performance. J Anim Sci 2016;94:228–228 (Abstr 0477).

Wang LF, Beltranena E, Zijlstra RT. Diet nutrient digestibility and growth performance of weaned pigs fed canola meal samples varying in nutritive quality. J Anim Sci 2016;94(2):105–106 (Abstr 224).


©2017 Canola Council of Canada. ProPound is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC.

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