When it comes to feeding heated canola seed to ruminant animals such as cattle or sheep, there are a few things to keep in mind.
“Canola seed that is heated might be discoloured and have a smell to it, but can still be used,” said provincial beef forage specialist Barry Yaremcio. “If there is a lot of mould, you should have it evaluated before you feed it, but most of the time it can be used in rations.”
Protein content ranges from 20 to 24 per cent, while energy content is higher than barley due to the amount of oil (115 per cent total digestible nutrients versus 83 per cent for barley).
“This means than feeding one pound of canola seed could replace about 1.5 pounds of barley in the ration,” said Yaremcio.
Processing through a roller mill or a hammer mill can be a problem due to the high oil content, which can gum up the rollers or the hammers and screens.
“However, research from the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission indicates that digestibility and energy of the whole seed is only 10 per cent less than the processed version,” he said.
The biggest concern with the canola seed is the high fat content, which can be up to 42 per cent. “If you exceed a total of six per cent fat in a beef ration it can interfere with the rumen function,” said Yaremcio. “Even though the rumen turns properly, the rumen material does not. Feed intakes go down and chances of bloat go up.”
It’s recommended that rations contain no more than three pounds of canola seed per day for mature cows and about 1.5 pounds for 800-weight backgrounding calves.
“However, you can’t just start with three pounds,” said Yaremcio. “You should feed one pound for three to five days and watch the manure and make sure everything is normal.
“For the next five days, go up to two pounds, and then after the full 10 days go to the full three pounds for the cows. The incremental increase is the same for the steers.”