Work is now underway on a two-year project that will re-examine the nutritional value of oilseed rape meal fed to pigs and poultry.
Funded by the HGCA, the work, which brings together plant breeders and animal nutritionists, is being carried out by a consortium headed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and also involving the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).
SRUC researcher Dr Jos Houdijk said the main rationale behind the project is that information on UK nutritional values and maximum inclusion rates for OSR meal in pig and poultry feed is probably out of date.
“Overseas, they have been including higher levels of OSR in meal for young pigs without any detrimental impact on their growth performance,” he added.
The project has been established in the belief that it’s an appropriate time to revisit the UK recommendations. The researchers will test a wide range of currently used OSR varieties for both nutritional and anti-nutritional factors. Through a series of biochemical, digestibility and growth trials they’ll link the chemical analysis of current OSR varieties with their nutritional value for pigs and poultry. They will also carry out a similar systematic investigation into nutritional and anti-nutritional factors, composition and variation in modern rape varieties.
To help this work, the team has established links with the French research facility CREOL at Pessoc. It has a pilot plant that mimics the industrial approach to oil extraction from oil seed crops, but in small batches, enabling it to produce variety-specific OSR meals.
The project is expected to provide the UK feed industry updated information and instil greater confidence about using OSR meal in pig and poultry feeds. The new data will be used to inform OSR breeders, growers, home-mixers and feed manufacturers about the opportunities offered by these protein sources to reduce reliance on imported soya bean meal.