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Canola Meal Feed Guide


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Canola Meal: A Basic Introduction

Canola is one of Canada’s most important crops, and is also the second most traded protein in the world. The vast, fertile fields of Western Canada are the primary canola production regions. In early summer, canola fields dot the countryside with brilliant yellow flowers, yielding about 20 million metric tonnes of canola each fall. These tiny round seeds, containing approximately 44% oil, are extracted for use as one of the world’s healthiest culinary oils. After the oil is extracted, the seed solids are processed into a protein-packed meal coproduct that is an excellent addition to livestock feed.

The name “canola” (Canadian oil) was coined in order to differentiate it from rapeseed. Canola is an offspring of rapeseed (Brassica napus and Brassica campestris/rapa), but was bred through traditional plant breeding techniques to have low levels of anti-nutrients, specifically erucic acid (< 2%) in the oil portion and low levels of glucosinolates (< 30 μmol/g) in the meal portion. The near removal of the glucosinolates resulted in a meal that was highly palatable to livestock. Some European countries use the term “double-zero rapeseed” (low erucic acid, low glucosinolates) to characterize the modified “canola quality” seed, oil and meal.

Production and Markets

Canola production in Canada has been steadily increasing, and currently sits at approximately 20 million metric tonnes of canola seed per year. The Canadian canola industry is targeting an increase in yield to 26 million metric tonnes per year by 2025, in response to rising world demand. The plan focuses on increasing yields in a sustainable way, while building consumer understanding of canola’s value and achieving stable, open trading relationships. As Figure 1 shows, canola crop research has results in almost a doubling of yields in the last 20 years. The industry’s goal is to reach 52 bushels/acre (22.7 kg/bu) by 2025.

20-Year Canola Trend

Source: Source: Statistics Canada, Table 32-10-0359-01

About half of Canada’s canola seed is exported, and the other half is processed in Canada (Table 1). Most countries that import canola seed mainly do so for the oil, which is the most valuable component. The seed is processed, and the resulting canola meal is used for the animal feed industry in these countries. Canola meal is widely available and traded, usually sold in bulk form as mash or pellets. Canadian canola meal is traded under the rules outlined in Table 2. Canola and rapeseed meals are commonly used in animal feeds around the world. Together, they are the second-most widely traded protein ingredients after soybean meal. The major producers of canola and rapeseed meal are Canada, Australia , China, the European Union and India. The use of canola meal varies considerably from market to market.

Canola meal sold directly to the United States goes primarily to the top dairy producing states. Canola seed exported to other countries for processing is used in a much more diverse fashion, including feeding to pigs, poultry and fish. Similarly, the meal that is used by the Canadian livestock industry goes primarily to dairy, swine and poultry rations.

Table 1. Canadian production, exports and domestic use of canola seed and canola meal (in 000’s) Metric tonnes 1

Crop Year wdt_ID 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020
Total seed production 1 19,599 21,328 20,724 19,607
Total seed export 2 11,052 10,771 9,198 10,039
China 3 3,999 4,319 3,119 1,926
Japan 4 2,214 2,584 2,137 2,140
Mexico 5 1,565 1,474 1,266 1,154
United Arab Emirates 6 763 637 457 989
Pakistan 7 932 678 778 691
European Union 8 798 390 642 2,177
United States 9 622 652 512 495
Other countries 10 115 37 287 467
Domestic seed processing 11 9,191 9,269 9,295 10,129
Domestic use 12 504 606 597 737
Total meal Export 13 4,672 5,534 4,634 4,902
United States 14 3,604 3,246 3,204 3,464
China 15 909 1,248 1,365 1,417
Other Export 16 160 40 65 21

1 Statistics Canada

Table 2. Trading rules for canola meal as set by Canadian Oilseed Processors Association (COPA)1

1 Protein, % minimum 36 minimum
2 Protein-fat (combined), % by mass - 37 minimum
3 Fat (oil) (typical), solvent extracted, % by mass 2 minimum -
4 Fat (oil) (typical), expeller pressed, % by mass 10 minimum -
5 Moisture, % by mass 12 maximum 12 maximum
6 Crude Fibre, % by mass 12 maximum 12 maximum
7 Sand and/or silica, % by mass - 1 maximum

1 COPA (Canadian Oilseed Processors Association), 2019

Meal Production Methods

Most canola seed is processed using solvent extraction in order to separate the oil from the meal. This process, also called prepress solvent extraction, typically includes Figure 2):
• Seed cleaning
• Seed preconditioning and flaking
• Seed cooking
• Pressing the flake to mechanically remove a portion of the oil
• Solvent extraction of the press-cake to remove the remainder of the oil
• Desolventizing and toasting of the meal
• Drying and cooling of the meal

Figure 2. Schematic of prepress solvent extraction process

A small proportion of Canadian canola seed is processed by using expeller processing, also termed double pressing. The seed is expelled twice to extract oil rather than using solvent to extract the residual oil. Up to the point of solvent extraction, the process is similar to the traditional preprocess solvent extraction process. However, it excludes the solvent extraction, desolventization, and drying and cooling stages. The resulting meal has higher oil content, which can range from 8–11%.

Effects of Processing on Meal Quality

The quality of the meal can be both enhanced and diminished by altering the processing conditions in the processing plant. Minimum processing temperatures are needed in order to deactivate the myrosinase enzyme, which, if not destroyed, will break down glucosinolates into their toxic metabolites (aglucones) in the animal’s digestive tract. Canola processing can also cause thermal degradation of 30–70% of glucosinolates in the meal (Daun and Adolphe, 1997). However, if temperatures are too high for too long, then the protein quality of the meal can decrease. Canola meal quality from processing plants within Canada does not vary widely. Small scale processing, where there is considerable variation in processing temperatures may produce meal of varied quality.


COPA, 2019. Canadian Oilseed Processors Association. Trading rules., Winnipeg, Manitoba

Daun, J.K. and Adolphe, D. 1997. A revision to the canola definition. GCIRC Bulletin. July 1997. pp.134–141

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