Rapeseed meal could replace soya meal in finisher pig diets

Take-home messages

  • Rapeseed meal could entirely replace soya bean meal in finisher pig diets
  • Proportions of rapeseed meal in a diet could be lifted to 25% without it impacting on an animal’s performance
  • Could be an opportunity for feed suppliers to revise formulations and reduce dependence on imported soya

Rapeseed meal could replace soya bean meal as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative source of protein in finisher pig diets.

Rapeseed meal has been traditionally limited to 15% of a fattening pig’s diet, but the proportion can be raised to 25% without animals’ growth or performance being affected, researchers have found.

It means farmers could reduce their reliance on imported soya-bean meal and potentially reduce their feed costs.

The findings came from a study by scientists at the University of Nottingham, SRUC, and NIAB who wanted to discover whether advice on the limits of feeding rapeseed meal to pigs was outdated.

Studies in Canada had found that higher levels of rapeseed meal could be used in weaner pig diets without impacting on performance, and researchers wanted to find out if modern UK rape varieties could be used in a similar way.

The research involved 96 grower and finisher pigs split across 16 same-sex pens in two batches. The pigs were given either a control diet based on soya bean meal, or a diet of 5, 15 or 25% rapeseed meal made of one of two common UK rape varieties: DK Cabernet or PR46W21. 

After weighing the pigs regularly, the researchers found that gradually exchanging soya bean meal for 25% rapeseed meal had no impact on the performance of finisher pigs.

The study also found that while rapeseed meals had less protein and lysine than soya bean meal, they had higher energy levels, meaning less wheat needed to be added into the meal mix.

For farmers who home-mix feed, the researchers said this could be an opportunity to revisit their formulations, while those who use a ready-mixed meal could talk to their suppliers about their feed composition.

Summarised from: Home-grown rapeseed meal as a soya bean meal for finisher pigs, J.G.M. Houdijk, S.P.J. Kightley, M.M. Kasprzak, J. Wiseman, P. Carre and O.A. Olukosi, SRUC, NIAB and University of Nottingham