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1999 Beef & Bison Production Field Day

Expeller Crambe Meal as a Protein Source

for Growing Calves

D. L. Riley, M. L. Bauer, V. L. Anderson, G. P. Lardy and J. S. Caton

North Dakota State University, Fargo


Thirty-two crossbred steers and heifers (585 lb) fed individually were used to evaluate expeller crambe meal (ECM) as a protein source in comparison with soybean meal (SBM). Calves were blocked by sex, stratified by weight, and allotted randomly to one of six supplemental treatments containing graded amounts of ECM (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%), replacing SBM and beet pulp; and a urea control. Diets were formulated to contain 11.5% CP. Supplements were formulated to provide 60% of total dietary CP. SBM and ECM made up 33% and 39% of total dietary CP, respectively. Diets consisted of 37.3% sorghum silage, 37.3% corncobs, 7.4% alfalfa hay, and 18% supplement on a DM basis. Calves were fed at 1.96% of BW on a DM basis and weighed at 14-day intervals. Weekly samples of feed ingredients were taken. Weekly orts were collected, weighed and sub-sampled. Initial weights and final weights were the average of weights taken on three consecutive days. The trial lasted 85 days. Supplemental natural protein increased feed efficiency (P = .06) and tended to increase ADG (P = .15) compared with urea. There was no difference (P > .61) in DM intake among treatments. There were no differences (P > .25) in ADG or feed efficiency between SBM and ECM.


Crambe is an oil crop that is grown for its high content of erucic acid, which has industrial uses like slip reagents for plastic bag manufacturing. After oil extraction, the by-product crambe meal remains. With increasing production of crambe in North Dakota over the last eight years, this by-product is a possible feed source for growing calves. The FDA limits the use of solvent extracted crambe meal to 4.2% (DM basis) in feedlot cattle diets.

Experiments have shown favorable results for solvent crambe meal as a protein source for growing calves. The objective of this experiment was to compare performance in growing calves fed varying levels of expeller crambe meal (ECM). Protein degradability of ECM and SBM was also measured.

Materials and Methods

Thirty-two crossbred steers and heifers (average 585 lb) were used in an 85-day trial. Calves were fed individually in Calan gates. Calves were stratified by weight, blocked by sex and allotted randomly to one of six supplemental treatments. All calves were fed a basal diet containing 37.3% sorghum silage, 37.3% corn cobs and 7.4% alfalfa hay, on a DM basis (Table 1). The remaining 18% of the diet, was supplement (Table 1). Supplements were pelleted to help with acceptability (Lambert et al., 1970). Weekly samples of the basal diet ingredients and the supplement were analyzed for DM. Feed refusals, if present, were weighed weekly, sub-sampled and analyzed for DM. Calves were weighed every 14 days to adjust DM offered to 2% of BW.

To determine relative degradability of the nitrogen in ECM, an ammonia release procedure was used. This entailed incubating 20 mg of nitrogen in vitro with ruminal fluid and buffer for 18 hours at 39oC and measuring ammonia accumulation.

Statistical analyses were performed using GLM procedure in SAS (1996). Linear, quadratic, urea vs. natural protein and SBM vs. ECM contrasts were used to analyze the data.

Table 1. Composition of Basal Diet and Supplements fed in Triala





Item Urea 100:0 75:25 50:50 25:75 0:100
Ingredient, %            
Sorghum Silage 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3
Corn Cobs 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3 37.3
Alfalfa Hay 7.4 7.4 7.4 7.4 7.4 7.4
Soybean Meal --- 7.6 5.7 3.8 1.9 ---
Crambe Meal --- --- 3.9 7.8 11.7 15.5
Beet Pulp 14.3 8.0 6.1 4.1 2.2 0.3
Urea 2.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9
Salt 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Vitamin/Mineral Mix 1.4 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0
Nutrient Composition            
Crude Protein, % 12.0 11.7 11.6 11.6 11.7 11.8

a Presented as a percentage of DM.

Results and Discussion

There was no difference (P > .25) in average daily gain, feed efficiency or intake (Table 2) between calves fed increasing levels of expeller crambe meal compared with soybean meal. Yet, calves supplemented with ECM, SBM or combinations thereof had better feed efficiencies (P = .06) and average daily gains (P = .15) compared with calves fed the urea supplement. These results are similar to observations by Anderson et al., (1993) and Anderson et al., (1998), in feeding solvent extracted and expeller crambe meal to backgrounding and finishing cattle. Perry et al., (1979) also concluded that when crambe meal was substituted for SBM there was no significant decrease in performance of the cattle. The better ADG and feed efficiencies that were observed with the calves fed natural protein compared with urea indicated there was more metabolizable protein for the calf.

Relative values of bypass for the different feed samples when compared with SBM were estimated from the ammonia release procedure (Table 3). Soybean meal, canola meal and solvent-extracted crambe meal (SCM) are all solvent extracted products. Extruded products undergo higher temperatures during processing than solvent extracted products, which increases bypass protein. Xylose-treated soybean meal (Soy Pass) had the highest amount of undegradable intake protein (UIP) when compared with soybean meal. Expeller crambe meal compared with solvent crambe meal (SCM) and canola meal was higher in bypass protein. Solvent extracted crambe meal and canola meal were similar to SBM.

Expeller crambe meal fed to calves in a backgrounding phase seems to be a likely. As estimated with ammonia release, ECM was greater in bypass protein compared with SBM. Bypass protein is important in the development of young calves, which have a high protein requirement. Therefore, the higher bypass protein of ECM may be more desirable than a lower bypass protein source for growing cattle.

Table 2. Weights and performance of calves feed expeller crambe meal.










Calves 4 5 6 6 5 6
Weight, lb.            


610 590 567 574 588 567


661 690 637 662 651 656
DM Intake, lb/d 12.5 12.3 11.8 12.1 12.3 12.0
ADG, lb/d 0.59 1.18 0.80 1.03 .74 1.05
Feed:Gain 23.5 10.7 14.8 11.8 16.5 11.6



Table 3. Relative degradability of selected protein sources.


NH3-N Released, %

Estimated UIP,

Relative to SBM

Soybean meal



Canola meal



Solvent-extracted crambe meal



Expeller-extracted crambe meal



Xylose treated soybean meal




Literature Cited

Anderson, V. L., W. D. Slanger, S. L. Boyles and P. T. Berg. Crambe meal is equivalent to soybean meal for backgrounding and finishing beef steers. 1993. J. Anim. Sci. 71:2608.

Anderson, V. L., 1998. Performance, metabolic, and physiological effects of crambe mealas a protein source for beef cattle. PhD. Thesis. Department of Animal and Range Sciences. North Dakota State University, Fargo.

Lambert, J. L., D. C. Clanton, I. A. Wolff and G. C. Mustakas. 1970. Crambe meal and hulls in beef cattle rations. J. Anim. Sci. 31:601-607.

Perry, T. W., W. F. Kwolek, H. L. Tookey, L. H. Princen, W. M. Beeson and M. T.Mohler. 1979. Crambe meal as a source of supplemental protein for growing-finishing beef cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 48:758-763.

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