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1999 Beef & Bison Production Field Day

A comparison of soybean, canola, solvent and expeller crambe meal as protein sources for growing and finishing feedlot steers

V.L. Anderson and J. C. Gardner

Carrington Research Extension Center, NDSU and

AgGrow Oils LLC, Carrington, ND


Feedlot performance and carcass traits were compared in a 150 day growing and finishing trial using preconditioned crossbred (n=128, avg wt = 795 12.2 lbs) steer calves. Diets were formulated for equal crude protein using soybean meal, canola meal, solvent and expeller crambe meal. Dry matter intake was greater P<.10) during growing for soybean (22.15 lb/hd/d) and canola (22.61) meal compared to expeller ((20.57) crambe meal with solvent crambe meal intermediate (21.42) but for the entire feeding period, no intake differences (P>.10) were apparent. During growing, gains from solvent crambe meal (3.58 lb/hd/day) were less (P<.10) than canola meal (4.19) with soybean meal (4.05) and expeller crambe meal (3.67) intermediate. No differences (P>.10)in gain were observed when the entire feeding period was compared. Gain per unit feed were similar (P.>10) throughout both periods and overall. Carcass traits were similar (P.>10) except dressing percent was lower (P<.10) for solvent crambe meal (61.4%) compared to canola meal (63.0) with soybean meal (62.9) and expeller crambe meal (62.2) intermediate. Percent choice and carcass value numerically favored expeller crambe meal. Expeller crambe meal produced equal or greater animal performance and carcass value when compared to solvent crambe meal, soybean meal, and canola meal as a protein source for feedlot cattle during growing and finishing.

Key Words: Expeller Crambe Meal, Solvent Crambe Meal, , Soybean Meal, Canola Meal, Feedlot, Growing, Finishing, Beef.


The increase in oilseed production in North Dakota is the result of larger acreages of new crops such as soybeans, canola, and crambe. While soybeans are the primary oil seed crop in the US, canola planting is rapidly increasing in the northern tier of states. A new crop, crambe, is being grown in relatively small acreages. Crambe produces industrial oil which is used in manufacturing plastics. The availability of large volumes of oilseed meals and other processing co-products, such as wheat midds and corn gluten feed, creates competition for protein market share. The price competition favors the cattleman in need of protein supplements for his cows or feedlot cattle.

Solvent extraction is widely used by high capacity crushing plants but expeller extraction is gaining favor for high value, smaller volume markets. Expeller extraction increases the proportion of escape protein due to heat produced during the expelling process and leaves higher amounts of residual oil than solvent extraction. This project was developed to compare solvent and expeller extracted crambe meal to soybean and canola meal in growing and finishing feedlot diets

Materials and Methods

Preconditioned crossbred Angus steers (n=128, avg wt 795 lbs 12.27) were blocked by weight and allotted to one of four treatments with four weight blocks(replicates) per treatment and 8 head per pen. The treatments were protein sources from four oil seed meals: soybean meal, canola meal, solvent crambe meal, and expeller crambe meal (Table 1). The soybean and canola meals used in this study were solvent extracted. Diets were formulated according to nutrient requirements for growing and finishing steer calves (NRC, 1984). Steers were weighed on two consecutive days at the start of the trial on February 9-10, 1998 and at approximately 28 day intervals thereafter. A growing ration was fed for two weigh periods with higher protein and lower concentrate levels followed by two periods of finishing diets (Table 2). Totally mixed rations were fed once daily to appetite in fenceline bunks. Steers were marketed at IBP, Dakota City, NE and carcass data collected by certified graders.

Results and Discussion

There were some obvious differences in the nutrient profile of the protein sources used. Protein and fiber contents are inversely related with quite high ADF levels observed in the expeller and solvent crambe meal from crushing whole seeds. The entire seed hull is included in both solvent and expeller extracted crambe meals. The expeller crambe meal used in this study was from one of the first crushes at the new AgGrow Oils LLC plant. It contained higher levels of residual oil than meal processed after equipment adjustments were made. Crambe meal contains higher levels of calcium, lower amounts of phosphorous, and similar proportions of ash when compared with solvent soybean and canola meal.

Feed intake (Table 2) during the growing period was highest (P<.10) for canola meal (22.61 lb/hd/day) and lowest for the expeller crambe meal (20.57) with soybean meal and solvent crambe meal intermediate (22.15 and 21.42 respectively. Average daily gains during the growing period were highest (P<.10) for canola meal ( 4.19 lbs/hd/day), lowest for solvent crambe meal (3.58) and intermediate for soybean meal (4.05) and expeller crambe meal (3.67). The residual oil in expeller meal may have contributed to improved gains. Feed efficiency was similar (P>.10) although solvent crambe meal (.168) was numerically less than soybean meal (.183), canola meal (.186), and expeller crambe meal (.180).

During finishing, dry matter intake, daily gain, and feed efficiency were similar (P>.10) for all treatments. Considering the entire feeding period, dry matter intake was greater (P<.10) for canola meal (24.52 lb/hd/day) followed by soybean meal (23.36), and less for solvent (23.23) and expeller (23.16) crambe meal. Total gains and feed efficiency were similar (P>.10). Dry matter intake measured as a percent of body weight of steers was also greatest (P<.10) for canola meal (2.41) than expeller crambe meal (2.30) with soybean meal (2.32) and solvent crambe meal (2.32) intermediate

Carcass data (Table 4) comparisons indicate few differences due to treatment. Dressing percent was highest for canola meal (P<.10) and soybean meal (62.9) and lowest for solvent crambe meal (61.4) with expeller (62.2) intermediate. Marbling scores, percent choice, and value per carcass were numerically greater for expeller crambe meal probably due to added fat content of the diet from the residual oil.

While some differences in intake were observed during the growing period, the overall performance of steers was similar between treatments. The concentration of nutrients in both crambe meals (lower protein, higher fiber) will require higher levels in a ration to meet protein requirements.

Price relationships of protein meals are somewhat difficult to establish due to variation in nutrients and availability. If a 10% discount is imposed for increased logistics in shipping more crambe meal due to the lower protein and higher fiber content, a ton of crambe meal should be worth approximately 60% of the price of soybean meal. Correspondingly, canola meal at 41.5% protein should be worth approximately 85% of soybean meal on per ton basis.

Table 1. Nutrient analysis of protein meals used for feedlot steers

Item Soybean Meal   Canola Meal  Solvent Crambe Meal   Expeller Crambe Meal 
Dry Matter, %   88.8 89.6 89.8 93.8
                                           ------------------Dry Matter basis------------------                           
Crude Protein    48.3                   41.3              29.5                               27.8                            
ADF 10.1 18.9 34.3 33.1
NDF 16.9 30.8 44.3 42.2
Fat 1.3 3.1 1.0 17.0
Ash 7.6 8.1 8.5 7.1
Calcium .35 .78 1.34 1.22
Phosphorous .71 1.18 .71 .78

The FDA has limited the use of solvent crambe meal to 4.2% of dry matter intake for feedlot cattle. This restriction is based on a petition filed in the 1970’s from small scale oilseed crush and minimal cattle feeding trials. AgGrow Oils LLC is preparing a petition to increase this minimum and expand the use of crambe meal to other beef rations based on more recent research which successfully used solvent crambe meal in creep feeds, beef cow gestation and lactation supplements and other feedlot studies. This trial is the first comparative data on the use of expeller crambe meal in feedlot diets.


Solvent and expeller crambe meal are useful protein sources for feedlot cattle. As new oil seed meals, they are relatively unknown and have therefore been marketed at a discount to encourage use. Cattlemen who purchase protein should consider using these regional sources to lower their feed expenses for feedlot cattle.

Table 2. Rations fed to growing and finishing steers

Item                                    Soybean Meal   Canola Meal  Solvent Crambe Meal  Expeller Crambe Meal 
                                                                ------------------Percent, DM Basis---------------                        
Ionophore suppl 1.74 1.74 1.67 1.67
Protein suppl 10.92 13.77 15.97 16.27
Corn, dry rolled 42.22 42.13 40.78 40.15
Straw, chopped 15.79 14.06 15.46 15.21
Corn silage 29.34 28.29 26.13 26.70
Ionophore suppl 1.75 1.64 1.76 1.64
Protein suppl 3.27 4.22 4.85 4.52
Corn, dry rolled 77.04 76.06 76.54 75.75
Straw, chopped 5.87 5.92 6.07 5.72
Corn silage 12.03 12.15 10.78 12.36
                                                               ------------------Pounds, As Fed---------------                              
Ionophore suppl .40 .40 .37 .36
Protein suppl 2.63 3.28 3.67 3.74
Corn, dry rolled 10.57 10.51 9.83 9.39
Straw, chopped 4.01 3.56 3.78 3.61
Corn silage 14.97 14.37 12.83 12.72
Ionophore suppl .44 .45 .45 .44
Protein suppl .86 1.20 1.28 1.20
Corn, dry rolled 21.03 22.66 21.21 22.06
Straw, chopped 1.63 1.79 1.71 1.69
Corn silage 6.71 7.38 6.09 7.34

Table 3. Feedlot performance of steers fed four different protein supplements

Item Soybean Meal Canola Meal Solvent Crambe Meal Expeller Crambe Meal SE P Value
No. Steers 32 32 32 32
No. Replicates   4 4 4 4
Initial weight, lb    796 794 793 797 12.27 .89
Final weight, lb 1205 1216 1186 1207 17.49 .58
Grow DMI, lb 22.15ab 22.61a 21.42ab 20.57b .56 .01
Finish DMI, lb 24.57 26.43 25.03 25.76 .40 .34
Total DMI, lb 23.36ab 24.52a 23.23b 23.16b .68 .01
Total DMI, %BWt 2.32ab 2.41a 2.32ab 2.30b .04 .08
Grow ADG, lb 4.05ab 4.19a 3.58b 3.67ab .14 .09
Finish ADG, lb 3.38 3.48 3.57 3.79 .16 .32
Total ADG, lb 3.72 3.84 3.57 3.73 .12 .53
Grow Gain/Feed .183 .186 .168 .180 .01 .20
Finish Gain/Geed .137 .132 .143 .147 .01 .64
Total Gain/Feed .159 .157 .155 .161 .01 .80

ab Values with different superscripts are significantly (P<.10) different

Table 4. Carcass traits of steers fed four different protein supplements

Item Soybean Meal Canola Meal Solvent Crambe Meal Expeller Crambe Meal SE P value
Hot Carcass wt, lb 762 771 734 758 11.8  .17
Dressing Percent 62.9a 63.0a 61.4b 62.2ab .28 .10
Rib Eye Area, sq. in 13.56 13.43 13.07 13.13 .20 .16
KPH fat, % 2.26 2.40 2.39 2.34 .05 .28
Fat Thickness, in .48 .51 .51 .51 .02 .49
Yield Grade 2.78 2.94 2.92 2.96 .09 .33
Marbling Scorec 446 457 455 497 15.5 .26
Percent Choice 83.9 76.7 82.4 96.8
Rel. Grid Value, $/hdd 0 -9.02 -2.56 10.64

ab Values with different superscripts are significantly (P<.10) different
c Marbling scores are based on a scoring system where less than 400 = select, 400-499 = low choice, 500-599=average choice, 600-699=high choice and +700=prime.
dBased on Certified Angus Beef grid

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