Canola meal for cattle. What are the gains?

Hodgeville, Sask., looks like it could be a postcard for the province—flat fields and cattle in nearby pastures, with an old elevator looming over the edge of town on Railroad Avenue, just like many other small towns. Canadian Prairies.

In contrast, the Great Muddy Valley near the United States border is a vast area. The environment is harsh, meaning it is not good for growing crops, but it works well for raising livestock.

However, in these starkly different locations, both manufacturers are practicing the same thing.

Circle Y Ranch

Michael and Tamela Burgess operate Circle Y Ranch in the Big Muddy Valley, where they breed Black Angus cattle and registered quarter horses.

They are involved in a research project being conducted by the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SSGA) and the Government of Saskatchewan on how canola meal can benefit livestock.

“I’ve been using it myself for a long time,” says Michael Burgess. “The first year they were doing it more at the varsity level and I kind of jokingly asked if I’d get a fee because I’d been doing it for a long time and they didn’t get it, so they knew I was interested. into.”

Cedarlea Farms

Located near Hodgeville Sask, Cedarlea Farms is owned and operated by Garner and Lori Deobald along with daughter and son-in-law Kylie and Brian Hawkins and grandson Griffin Hawkins. The Deobalds’ farm was started by Garner’s great-grandfather, and they have been in this area of ​​the state since 1910.

“It’s short grass country,” says Garner Deobald. “And here as part of the world we manage a herd of about 300 to 325 breeding females. Most of them are purebred Charolais cattle. We also have commercial cows here. We use community pastures for commercial cattle and we have an annual bull sale in early April each year.”

Deobald was recently elected president of the Saskatchewan Stockholders Association. Through his work there, he became involved in the canola meal project.

Canola crushers

At the annual general meeting and conference of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association in Assiniboia, Sask., in early June, Dwayne Summach, livestock and forage extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture, explained the project to conference attendees.

“We’re looking at adding canola meal,” says Summach. “What makes the most sense for a cow-calf operator, and what class of cattle benefits most from receiving more or less protein?”

Burgess says the Big Muddy Valley has a good climate and shelter for wintering cattle.

Michael Burgess

He says it’s especially important to conduct such research in Saskatchewan because of the new Cargill canola crushing plant being built in Regina. The Cargill plant is projected to crush one million tons of canola per year and will be completed in early 2024.

Viterra also announced a Regina canola crushing plant in 2021. The company plans to crush 2.5 million metric tons, making the plant the world’s largest integrated canola crushing plant, the press release said. At that time, the goal was to put the plant into operation by the end of 2024.

Federated Co-operatives Limited and Richardson also announced canola crushing plants coming to Saskatchewan.

“More canola meal will be produced,” Summach says, adding that beef producers “should consider buying it before it leaves our borders.”

Canola meal study

The study was conducted on both Burgess and Deobald farms. Each farm provided two groups of 25-year-old chicks—a control group that would only graze pasture and another group that would be fed canola meal.

Deobald had never used rapeseed meal, so he followed T’s instructions. For 60 days, he fed one group 1.5 kg of canola meal mash every day. Deobald did not provide any additional food to the control group. Both groups were grazed on wheat grass pastures with some native grass.

Burgess has been feeding his cattle canola meal for a long time, so he stuck to his tried-and-tested recipe for the treatment group – 1.11kg of canola meal every other day as part of the salt mix.

“We’re in an area here in the Big Muddy where we’re pretty good for winter grazing,” Burgess says. “I know it won’t work for everyone. But we have natural shelters in the badlands here. And we keep hay for the cows for the winter. So it still gets pretty deep, but it’s a pretty good wintering place for cows.


According to Summach, the control group at Circle Y Ranch started at 914 pounds and ended up with an average daily gain of 0.20 to 927 pounds. An additional group of cattle started at 902 pounds and ended with an average daily gain of 0.51 at 935 pounds.

At Cedarlea Farms, their control group started at 1,315 pounds and finished with an average daily gain of 1.47 to 1,404 pounds. Their additional group started with £1,297 and ended with an average daily gain of £1,409 with a 1.86.

“We took a few pictures along the way and they took on a little more weight,” says Deobald. “When we finally weighed them, the added group started with a lighter weight and finished with a heavier weight. So they definitely won better and performed better on grass. Again, this is not a real noticeable difference when the groups are so close anyway. But when I looked at them from start to finish every day and had some pictures to look at, they seemed a little heavier.”

In his presentation, Summach explained the value of using canola meal. Control group value/lb for Cedarlea Farms. profit was $7.65. Added group value/lb. earnings were $4.14 (including grazing and overheads per day).

The control group for Circle Y Farms had a cost of $1.18/lb. from profit. For the added group, everything added up to $1.19/lb. from profit.

Burgess says he thinks the cattle would make more if they were in worse condition.

“They were in good condition and basically had to be carried through maintenance diets for the winter,” he says. “So I think that’s why it showed a higher cost of earnings.”

Burgess believes the value of gain would have been higher if the control group had used lick barrels, as he doubts the cattle would have gained more from the canola meal, but the cost would have been higher.

Go ahead

Now, Summach says, he’s interested in seeing how cattle change because of canola.

“The next interesting thing is to follow these groups to see if there is a difference in hormones in this group, whether there is a difference in the sexes of the herd,” says Summach.

Deobald says he will use canola meal again in his operation with the new shredders coming in and the results he’s seeing from research.

“I mean, with the amount we fed them, the performance was impressive. And the performance was probably better than I thought. So we’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

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