Including Camelina in Organic Poultry Diets

eOrganic author:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob Ph.D., University of Kentucky

NOTE: Before using any feed ingredient make sure that the ingredient is listed in your Organic System Plan and approved by your certifier.


Camelina (Camelina sativa), also known as false flax, is a new crop being grown for oil extraction for biodiesel production. Like canola, camelina is a member of the mustard family. Camelina has been shown to be more drought-resistant and frost-tolerant than canola. Camelina also appears to be resistant to flea beetles—a major economic pest of canola in some U.S. states—and would be a good choice for rotation with small grain crops (McVay and Lamb, 2008).


Most of the available data is on solvent-extracted camelina meal, which is the most commercially available form. It is important to remember, however, that solvent-extracted oil meals cannot be used in organic poultry diets (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2000).

§ 205.270 Organic handling requirements.

(c) The handler of an organic handling operation must not use in or on agricultural products intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)),” or in or on any ingredients labeled as organic:

(1) Practices prohibited under paragraphs (e) and (f) of §205.105.

(2) A volatile synthetic solvent or other synthetic processing aid not allowed under §205.605: Except, that, nonorganic ingredients in products labeled “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” are not subject to this requirement.

Nutrient content of solvent extracted camelina meal (Batal and Dale, 2010)

  • Dry matter: 90%
  • Metabolizable energy:
    • 3328 AMEn kcal/kg
    • 1510 AMEn kcal/lb
  • Crude protein: 33.9%
    • Methionine: 0.61%
    • Cysteine: 066%
    • Lysine: 1.54%
    • Threonine: 1.30%
    • Tryptophan: 0.42%
  • Crude fat: 12.0%
  • Crude fiber: 12.4%
  • Ash: 5.8%
    • Calcium: 0.33%
    • Total phosphorus: 0.94%
    • Non-phytate phosphorus: 0.00%

As with canola meal, camelina meal is rich in protein (Frame and Palmer, 2008). Camelina meal also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (Aziza et al., 2010a) and is rich in antioxidant tocopherols. The tocopherols are retained and functional in chicken meat. Moreover, camelina meal contains secondary plant metabolites called glucosinolates that adversely affect broiler performance (Tripathi and Mishra, 2007). The major problem is a reduction in feed consumption resulting in decreased growth and/or egg production. Expeller-extracted meal contains less glucosinolates than found in solvent-extracted meals (Tripathi and Mishra, 2007), but Ryhänen et al. (2007) indicated that the inclusion of expeller extract meal reduced growth performance of starter chickens as well.

Feeding Camelina to Poultry

There is very little published research on the use of camelina meal in poultry diets, but what is available indicates the need to restrict its use. Feeding camelina meal to broilers was effective at increasing the omega-3 content of white and dark chicken meat (Aziza et al., 2010a). However, inclusion of 10% camelina meal in starter broiler diets adversely affected growth and feed efficiency.

Feeding camelina meal at 10% inclusion in layer diets increased omega-3 content in the eggs observed. Inclusion of higher levels of camelina meal resulted in lipid peroxidation problems, reducing shelf-life of the eggs. There was also decreased egg production, yolk fat, and yolk size (Cherian et al., 2009).

Turkey research at Utah State University (Frame and Palmer, 2008) suggests that camelina meal should not be included at rates higher than 5% in the diets of growing turkeys. The level can be increased to 10% for older turkeys approaching market weight without significantly affecting body weight gain or feed efficiency.

References and Citations

Published January 6, 2014

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.