Canola Is For Farmers and Consumers

November 1, 2013 — Move over corn, move over soybeans, move over cottonseed, there’s an “old kid on the block” that’s growing in respect and is “outstanding in its field.” Its canola, or 568_3028“Canadian oil low acid,” is what the name stands for, and while it’s been used in dairy rations for years, it’s grabbing a second look due to its rising popularity among consumers and growers.

I was recently made aware of the virtues of canola, a descendant of the rapeseed plant commonly grown in Europe, when I was invited, along with several agricultural journalist colleagues, to tour a newly built multi-million dollar canola processing plant. It is located in one of the most isolated and almost desolate parts of the country, rich in railroad connections, cheap electric power, and close to growers, Warden, Washington, about an hour’s drive south of Spokane.

We were the guests of Pacific Coast Canola, (PCC) a Canadian company that began production in December 2012. It is one of the most modern and efficient plants in the country and ramped up full output in September, crushing over 20,000 metric tons. The plant processes some 1100 metric tons per day, with 37 percent of the tiny seeds going to oil and the remainder to meal as animal feed, including dairy cows.

Some 144,000 acres in a four state area are currently in canola production acreage and growing, plus Canadian canola is shipped to the plant, which is one of only two processors in North America that employs an expeller pressed method as opposed to chemical extraction of the oil.

The plant also has separate processing for genetically modified (GMO) and non GMO seed and the plant has meant a “huge new economic impact” on the local economy and the entire Pacific Northwest, according to Chief Operating Officer, Matt Upmeyer.

Upmeyer says they pay a healthy incentive for non-GMO seed suppliers, with the goal of “providing their customers what the market demands.”

He cited statistics showing the rising demand of canola, over 80 percent growth in the last six years, crediting one factor in particular; the changeover in the fast food industry by McDonalds and its competitors to canola oil for frying due to its “heart healthy attributes,” as he put it.

Canola oil is used in a multitude of food products such as salad dressings and one of its non-food uses is bio-diesel, though PCC has not shipped into that market to a large degree.

PCC points out that its mechanical expeller-pressing process results in a meal that is solvent free and contains about 10 percent more oil compared to conventional solvent extracted meal. The meal is not diluted and has the same amount of protein as conventional canola meal.

What’s in it for dairy feeding?

PCC says “more milk production due to the high quality nature of canola protein,” adding that “the extra energy in PCC canola means that less supplemental fat may be required in order to balance the diets.”

PCC boasts that canola meal is valued as a good source of protein nitrogen to the rumen for rumen microbial production as well as for having an excellent amino acid balance (especially methionine and histidine) in the RUP fraction to meet dairy cows’ needs for milk protein production.” PCC adds that canola meal also has a good ADF/NDF ratio and high levels of phosphorus, and “cows like the taste of canola meal.”

Upmeyer said in Friday’s DairyLine broadcast that their plant supplies product to an area that has a quarter of a million cows in Washington State and a half million in Idaho and, while U.S. dairies in the past were concerned about the supply of canola coming from Canada, “now there’s a local solution.”

He adds that PCC canola meal has a high fat content because of the way it’s processed and a higher ruminant bypass protein “so it may be better than other feedstuffs.”

Upmeyer admits the largest crushers will always be in Canada and dairies across the country like New York and Pennsylvania can access canola that way, though it will be a slightly different product than PCC’s, due to how it’s processed.

As always, it’s best to consult your local nutritionist for complete details on how canola might play a role in your dairy’s ration and your bottom line. For more details, log on to

This article was written by Lee Mielke, DairyBusiness Update associate editor.

Listen to the audio portion of this story here:


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