A potential new cover crop is becoming gaining traction as a highly sustainable crop for livestock feed. Carinata, also known as Ethiopian mustard, is an oilseed crop with plenty of potential.
This cousin of canola has high protein levels, up to 46%, making it perfect for livestock feed due to its higher protein content compared to other small oilseeds. It is low in fiber and highly digestible. The FDA approved it for use as a feed ingredient. Carinata as a soft seed, so both its oil and meal components could potentially be used in livestock feed.
A 2019 study from the University of Florida and the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center found that for ruminants, carinata meal has similar protein digestibility to soybean meal and its crude protein degrades very well in the rumen. Animals that were fed carinata meal up to 10% of their total diet experienced no negative effects on animal performance.
Another U.S. researcher published a paper in the same year showing that using Ethiopian mustard as a protein supplement at 0.3% of growing heifer body weights per day was a viable option for increasing average daily gain.
As Ethiopian mustard is a non-GMO crop, it’s especially of interest in European markets, which currently prohibit GMO products. As an oilseed, carinata is already being used to produce biofuel for commercial jets, but it is unsuitable for human consumption due to high levels of erucic acid.
A hardy and fast-growing crop, Ethiopian mustard has extremely deep roots, making it an ideal choice for areas prone to drought or dryland environments. It can overwinter as a cover crop and helps with issues like erosion control. During harvest, seed loss is minimal.
In 2020, researchers published results showing that carinata grown in the southeastern U.S. provided maximum seed and oil production. It appears we haven’t heard the last about Ethiopian mustard.
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