Can Camelina Meal be Used as a Feed Ingredient?

By Yuzhi Li, Alternative and Organic Swine Production

June 2020

Organic pigsCamelina meal is a by-product of Camelina oil. Camelina seeds contain 40% oil. Since Camelina oil is usually extracted from the seeds through cold pressing, only 22-30% of the oil can be extracted, with 10-18% of the oil remaining in the seed meal. Camelina meal is high in both protein and energy and can be used to feed livestock, including pigs.

Camelina is a crop belonging to the Brassicas family. Plants in the Brassicas family, such as rapeseed and mustard are believed to have anthelmintic properties. The anthelmintic properties may be associated with tannins and glucosinolates, which are anti-nutritional factors in the plants. For instance, there is evidence that glucosinolates can break into isothiocyanaties which may kill or suppress insects and nematodes. If Camelina could control parasites in pigs, it would be beneficial to organic pig production where commercial anthelmintics are not allowed. The question is: can diets supplemented with Camelina meal reduce parasite loads in organic pigs?

We tried to answer the question in two studies. In both studies, pigs were born in a farrowing barn bedded with straw. Pigs were fed diets supplemented with Camelina meal during the growing-finishing period (11 to 23 week old). In the first study, we tested four inclusion rates of Camelina meal: 0% (control group), 5%, 10%, and 15%. Parasite evidence in pigs was evaluated by liver surface scars (milky spots) caused by Ascaris (round worms). Twenty two pigs (5-6 pigs from each treatment group) at market weight were harvested and inspected for liver scars. Across all groups, 36% pigs had liver scars, indicating infection from round worms. Both the control group and the group fed diets with 15% Camelina meal had the lowest infection rate (20%), while the group fed diets with 5% Camelina meal had the highest infection rate (67%). These results suggest that inclusion of Camelina meal in diets did not affect parasite infection in pigs.

In the second study, we compared pigs fed diets with 10% Camelina meal with control pigs (0% Camelina). Pigs were raised under organic conditions and housed in a deep-bedded hoop barn. We collected fecal samples from 30 pigs (15 per group) at market weight for analysis of parasite (Ascaris) eggs. Among the 30 pigs, 63% were found with parasite eggs in their feces. The infection rate was similar between pigs fed Camelina diets (67% pigs infected) and control diets (60% pigs infected). In addition, there was no difference in parasite load (number of eggs per gram feces) between the two groups. Results from both studies indicate that inclusion of Camelina meal in diets does not reduce parasite infection in pigs. In other words, Camelina meal as a feed ingredient is not effective to control parasites in pigs in organic production. 

This project is supported by Organic Transition Program (Award# 2017-51106-27129) from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.