An oilseed hat-trick: Camelina seed, meal and oil fed to chickens, goats and fish makes for healthier animal products, a growing body of research suggests.

In one Romanian university study it was shown that goats whose feed is supplemented with Camelina produce milk that is healthier for humans.

The study by Daniel Mierlita and Simona Iona Vicas, published in the South African Journal of Animal Science, found that dietary supplementation with Camelina seed increased the oxidative stability of milk samples in dairy ewes – suggesting that a “grass-silage-based diet supplemented with Camelina seed results in milk of better quality for human consumption.”

Finnish researchers publishing in the Journal of Dairy Science found that cow rations supplemented with Camelina oil produce milk containing isomers that are known to confer cardiovascular and immune system benefits. The same study found a serendipitously positive environmental effect: cows fed high-Omega Camelina produce less methane gas!

Several different Omega-3 fatty acids exist, but the majority of scientific research focuses on three: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

Omega-3s play important roles in the body as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes.

Camelina oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an extremely important Omega-3 fatty acid.

Of all the various plant-based sources of high Omega-3 PUFA, Camelina offers an excellent of Omega6-Omega3.

University of Alberta researchers have found that Camelina meal fed to broiler chickens enriches the Omega-3 fatty acid content of the meat.

Feeding higher amounts of Camelina meal to broiler chickens produced breast and thigh meat that was 2x to 4x higher in healthy Omega3-type fatty acids.

“Camelina meal can be efficaciously included in feed to enrich Omega-3 fatty acids content of broiler meat,” the researchers from the Poultry Research Centre of the University of Alberta discovered.

And a University of Saskatchewan study found Camelina fed to laying hens boosts the Omega-3 content of the eggs.

As we reported elsewhere, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved Camelina for broiler chicken rations in Canada as well as for egg-laying hens.

While high Omega Camelina oil is an effective supplement in the diet of horses, Camelina oil is also being viewed as a potentially efficient replacement for fish oil in aquaculture.

A Canadian study by Stefanie Hixson and colleagues found that rainbow trout fed Camelina oil as a 100% replacement for fish oil produced more than sufficient amounts of DHA | EPA to meet the World Health Organization’s daily requirements for humans. According to the DHA | EPA Omega3 Institute “DHA is required in high levels in the brain and retina as a physiologically-essential nutrient to provide for optimal neuronal functioning (learning ability, mental development) and visual acuity, in young and old alike. DHA plus EPA are both considered to have beneficial effects in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease plus associated risk factors as well as other chronic disorders.”

Hixson and colleagues concluded that: “Other human health benefits [to using Camelina in fish feed] include lower SFA (saturated fatty acids) and higher MUFA (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) in filets fed camelina oil versus fish oil.”

Another study by Hixson et al found that both Camelina oil and Camelina meal are potential replacements of fish meal and oil in aquaculture. This was the first study to use Camelina oil as a complete fish oil replacement in diets for farmed Atlantic salmon.

This aquaculture research is underway due to pressure on the worldwide supply of fish oil for human consumption, as reports: “The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids recommends a daily intake of 500 mg of Omega-3 for optimum cardiovascular health and, projecting this to a population of 7 billion, this amounts to a total annual requirement for over 1.25 million metric tonnes of Omega3 fatty acids. The annual global supply of fish and fish oil cannot meet this level of Omega3 production and so there is a large gap between supply and demand.”

The only sustainable solution to the ever-increasing global demand for Omega-3 is novel production from entirely new sources, including land-based sources such as Camelina.

More information on Camelina and its’ use as high-value meal and oil is found in the Smart Earth Seeds Library where you find links to hundreds of academic and research papers on this promising oilseed crop.