The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved Omega3-boosting Camelina cake for inclusion in feed for laying hens, reports the Western Producer.

Researchers recently told the Western Canada Poultry Research Workshop that a market for Camelina meal could lead to one million to two million acres of Canadian farmland being dedicated to growing this promising oilseed.

Camelina seed is one-third oil and finding a use for the remaining meal — known as cake — has been the focus of research by Eduardo Beltranena and his Alberta Agriculture colleague Matt Oryschak over the past four years, Alberta Farm Express reported. The research was conducted with seed supplied by Smart Earth Seeds.

Oryschak and Beltranena worked on the application to CFIA seeking approval for use of Camelina meal in hen diets.

They said that adding Camelina to a laying hens diet can increase the Omega3 content of the eggs. Their research by The Poultry Research Centre also shows that Camelina-fed broiler chickens demonstrate higher Omega3 content in thigh and breast meat.

“[Camelina] has some advantages that will represent good opportunities for broilers, layers and eventually turkeys,” The Western Producer quoted Beltranena as telling the conference.

Camelina oil is already used in biofuel, bioplastics, lubricants, paints, cosmetics and cooking oil. A market for Camelina meal in Canada would put Canadian oilseed and poultry producers on a level playing field with their US neighbours. There, the FDA approved a 10 percent Camelina inclusion rate in cattle feed, 10 percent in broilers and layers and two percent in pigs.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency last year approved a 12 percent Camelina inclusion rate for broiler chickens in Canada.

There is growing excitement that Camelina can improve the health of animal products. Ten percent of the oil is left in the cake when the seed is crushed, and the byproduct contains rich fibre, energy, protein and beneficial fatty acids. The researchers reported no toxicity or thyroid problems in dissected birds.

Camelina’s high level of Omega3s makes it an intriguing feed, he said.

“You could reduce some of the vitamin supplementation in feed if you include some of these cakes in the feed,” said Beltranena.

Beltranena said Camelina works as a rotation crop in the brown and light brown soils of southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba.

“This crop has the opportunity to be grown in some marginal lands and not displace canola,” he said.

Camelina requires less rainfall, matures earlier than canola, and has superior disease and insect resistance, the Alberta Farm Express reported from the same conference.

“We see the opportunity not to displace canola, but to add one million to two million acres more of oilseed production (in Western Canada),” Beltranena told the Alberta Farm Express.