CANOLA MEAL A VIABLE SUCCESS
CANOLA meal may soon become an additional staple for beef producers if results from a recent trial are anything to go by.
Although full details won’t be available till later this year, the 60day trial saw 20 steers fed a supplementary ration of canola meal and another 20 steers fed pellets.
Run by Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Animal Science (Honours) student, Emma Lynch, the study looked at ways for beef producers to capitalise on the cheaper alternative of feeding canola.
“The steers were weighed every 14 days to compare growth rates and we also collected samples to study the fatty acids in the blood, in particular Omega-3,” Ms Lynch said.
“The canola meal we have used is a by-product of oil production and in recent years, it’s been a cheaper option than the pellets producers often use to supplementary feed their cattle.
“There is an increasing demand for grass-fed beef that complies with the Pasture Fed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) - the advantage of using canola meal, rather than supplementary feeding with a traditional finishing grain diet, is that producers can still meet those PCAS guidelines.”
The steers were fed a supplement of canola meal – sourced from Northern Victoria – at a rate of 2.5kg a day for 60 consecutive days.
Preliminary data showed no weight gain differences between those fed canola meal and those fed a grain based supplement.
Slaughtered last month, Ms Lynch said she was also happy with the quality of the meat produced.
“There have been no negative impacts on meat or fat colour,” she said.
Feeding canola meal has been fairly standard in the poultry industry for the last 10 years, and many in the pork and dairy industry use supplements based on alternative oils.
Aside from being a cheaper feed, a study by Agriculture Vic- toria research scientists within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) found that feeding natural feed additives also helped reduce the carbon footprint of methane emissions, particularly in the dairy industry.
The project, headed by Dr Richard Eckard of the University of Melbourne, investigated several waste products that were high in oil – including canola meal.
“For every one per cent of oil added to the ruminant’s diet, it translates to a three and a half per cent reduction in methane emissions,” he explained during the time of the study.
Dr Peter Moate is a researcher with Agriculture Victoria research division of DEDJTR, and said while adding fats and oils to the diets of cattle appeared to be a promising way to increase production and reduce methane emissions, its value was limited to when pasture was nutritionally poor.
“In spring, our ryegrass gets up to around 5 per cent oil, so you don’t have as much value (adding oil),” said Dr Moate.
“If you feed a high fat feed, when the pasture already has a high fat percentage, the fats can cause digestion problems; you don’t want it much higher than around 6 per cent.
“But in summer you might have pasture with only 1.5 per cent oil, so that gives you a bigger window.
“In that scenario, adding 5.5 per cent oil could reduce emissions by 15–20 per cent - it would also increase milk production due to the slow-release energy provided by oil.”
The research results could have implications for other livestock producers as well, according to Dr Moate.
“This rate of methane production applies to a wide range of common diets regardless of whether cows are in early or late lactation, and this relationship also applies to beef cattle,” he said.
Dr Martin Auldist is senior research scientist - dairy nutrition with the Agriculture Victoria research division of DEDJTR.
He is currently in the middle of an experimental trial that looks at the benefits of feeding canola meal to grazing dairy cows.
“Overall, we find that the canola increases the inclination of the cows to eat,” he said.
“Not only do they eat more supplements, but they are more inclined to graze upon returning to the paddock.
“We are confident that this extra intake is one of the main reasons for the increased milk yield we also see when canola is added to the ration.”
In some instances, Dr Auldist said the produced milk had increased substantially, compared to cows fed the same amount of energy but on a cereal and hay diet.
“Other reasons that canola could be having these effects include the possibility that it provides a more balanced supply of amino acids - leading to more milk and an increased appetite,” Dr Auldist said.
“( There can be) increased buffering capacity in the rumen, and therefore less variable ruminal pH - leading to improved digestion and/or less interference with milk fat synthesis - and less propionate being produced in the rumen compared to when cereal grain is fed and thus the partial removal of satiety signals.”
Advanta Seeds canola business manager, Justin Kudnig, is responsible for leading the way in canola cropping.
Earlier this year, his company released two new varieties, under its Hyola brand, for the Australian market.
Although Mr Kudnig is not involved in what happens af- ter canola is grown, his company’s confidence in developing the crop speaks volumes.
“The future of canola both in Victoria and across Australia is looking very strong on the back of solid ongoing commodity pricing leading to optimisation of farm profitability and the canola crop component being an effective disease and weed break crop for many winter cropping rotations,” he said.
“I expect the overall canola crop size and importance to Australian growers to remain at a very high level for the foreseeable future.”
It is the farmer confidence in canola crops that will potentially see canola meal production also increase.
If you would like to stay up to date with the beef feeding trial being run by the Charles Sturt University, go to their website at http://news.csu. edu.au.
BRIGHT FUTURE: Is canola meal the beef supplement of the future? Advanta Seeds continues to invest money in the crop, and this year released two new varieties. Pictured is Advanta Seeds’ canola manager, Justin Kudnig.
PAVING THE WAY: Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Animal Science (Honours) student, Emma Lynch, recently finished a trial that looked at ways for beef producers to capitalise on the cheaper alternative of feeding canola, rather than a more traditional grain diet.