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Animal Feed

Historically, flaxseed has been used for food and feed for animals for several thousand years in Europe, Asia and Africa, and more recently in Canada and the United States.

What is linseed meal?

  • Linseed meal is a by-product of flax.  Oil is extracted from the seed by either the mechanical process or the solvent process.  Linseed meal is the finely ground residue (known as cake, chips, or flakes) remaining after the oil extraction (Ensminger, Oldfield, and Heinemann 1990).

What animals can be fed linseed meal?

  • Linseed meals is favored in rations for ruminants, horses, and sometimes, for sow diets, but is rarely used for poultry because of its poor amino acid profile, its high fiber, and its laxative nature (Kellems and Church, 2002).
  • Horse caretakers prefer old process linseed meal, because it is palatable, and it imparts glossiness to the hair coat due to the high oil content (Ensminger, et al. 1990).
  • For swine, the proteins of linseed meal do not effectively supplement the deficiencies of the cereal grains; since linseed meal is also low in amino acids, lysine, and tryptophan (Ensminger, et al. 1990).

Why should animals be fed linseed meal?

  • Recent interest in omega-3 fatty acid deposition in poultry meat and egg has renewed interest in utilizing flaxseed as an omega-3 fatty acid source in poultry, swine, and ruminant diets (Scheideler, 2003). Poultry, beef, pork, milk and eggs can be modified by the dietary lipid profile fed to the animal, allowing the producer to produce high quality food products with added omega-3 fatty acids for the discerning consumer (Scheideler, 2003). Since flax is grown in fields with higher levels of selenium, linseed meal contains a great among of selenium than other feeds (Kellems and Church, 2002). Also, it is a laxative; hence, it may be used to regulate the bowels (Ensminger, et al. 1990).

How should it be fed to the animals?

  • Birds have gizzard muscles capable of grinding seed, thus enabling the chicken to consume whole flaxseed with high digestibility, but simple stomached and ruminant animals like pigs and dairy cows must be fed the ground flaxseed to maximize digestibility (Scheideler, 2003).


References used for this page.

Additional Information and Research.



Kathie Richardson
NDSU Library
Fargo, ND 58105

Last updated: 21.04.2008

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