Sunflower meal and its role in ruminant nutrition

Sunflower meal is one of the by-products of oil extraction from sunflower seeds, and it often has a variable amount of protein depending on the amount of shell removal and the type of processing. Usually, more than 80% of this protein is broken down in the rumen

The content of protein and fat in different types of sunflower meal varies and the price of this product is often determined according to the percentage of protein and fat. This protein material without shell can be considered as a suitable substitute for a part of animal feed protein sources, including the equivalent protein

In case of oiling by mechanical methods, the flour produced has a higher percentage of fat. If oil extraction is done through mechanical methods along with solvent extraction method, the amount of remaining oil in the flour will decrease and this amount can reach about 1% of fat in sunflower flour

Due to the difference in the type of oil extraction, the protein and fat content of flours varies and the price of protein products is often determined according to their protein and fat percentage

Low levels of lysine and threonine in sunflower meal is one of the limiting factors for its consumption as animal feed. However, sunflower meal has high levels of sulfur-containing amino acids and tryptophan. Among the other limiting factors of its use in feeding ruminants is the high degradability of this product’s protein in the rumen

Some processing methods such as heating can partially increase the amount of non-degradable protein in the rumen. Many studies show the positive effect of feed processing on reducing the amount of protein breakdown in the rumen without reducing digestibility in the small intestine. According to some researches, heating sunflower meal can cause an increase in non-degradable protein in the rumen. It has been stated in studies that after processing soybean meal through heating and using phosphoric acid, the amount of degradable protein in the rumen decreased from 80.1% to 69.8%

Sunflower meal and its role in feeding ruminants as animal feed

The use of protein flours obtained from the process of extracting oil from plant seeds is one of the most common ways of providing protein and adjusting the protein ration of dairy cows. However, protein sources such as soybean meal are often used to meet protein requirements in livestock. However, other protein sources such as sunflower meal are also used in many regions such as the European Union to meet part of this need by livestock. In one of the studies conducted on sheep in 1980, feeding soybean meal improved the sheep’s weight gain. However, in the groups that were fed with sunflower meal with 40% protein and soybean meal in a ratio of 50:50, similar results were observed with other groups that provided their protein needs only through soybean meal. In this experiment, feeding sunflower meal compared to cottonseed meal improved weight gain in sheep. According to some research, sunflower meal has a higher nutritional value than cottonseed meal

Sunflower meal is the result of oil extraction of sunflower seeds, eggs with and without skin. This product is obtained by grinding the residue left over from oil extraction from sunflower seeds. Shelled sunflower seeds contain 36% crude protein, while sunflower meal obtained from shelled sunflower seeds contains 26-28% crude protein. In addition to raw protein, this meal also contains amino acids, including myotin, which have a very significant effect on the growth and development of young animals

Sunflower meal contains niacin, riboflavin, choline, biotin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. This flour also contains vitamin E

Types of sunflower flour

In order to make it easier to transport flours, they are usually made into pellets. The color of sunflower meal varies from gray to black and depends on the degree of cracking and oiling methods. This flour is available in the market in two forms, with skin and without skin

Flour with skin

It is called flour in which the amount of fiber is higher than flour without skin and is used more often

Flour without skin

It is called a flour that is made only from the kernel of the sunflower seed and sometimes there may be very few particles of the seed coat in it. This flour is produced in two ways and is offered in the market

Powdered or filled

The flour available in the domestic market is produced in powder form


The main purpose of pelletizing flours is to increase their bulk density and thus reduce the cost of maintenance and transportation of this type of flours. Pelletization also increases the physical stability of the food and increases the possible storage time before consumption

Properties of sunflower meal

Flours have different properties and the properties of this flour include the following

There is a lot of protein in this flour-

This flour contains fat-

There is a lot of phosphorus in this flour-

This meal is palatable-

Sunflower flour has less side effects than other flours-

It is the most suitable choice for feeding animals-

It can even be said that sunflower meal can be used for better growth and development of animals. In the past, the remaining materials from sunflower oil extraction were thrown away, but with the passage of time and the progress of science and awareness of the effects and minerals in the remaining products, these flours were used in feeding animals. In today’s world, where we face less and less food sources for livestock, these food wastes become very effective and are more important

Features and benefits of sunflower flour

This flour can be used alone as the only rich source of protein, fiber, methionine and supplementary vitamins in the diet of lactating animals. Sunflower meal does not contain anti-nutritional factors that are found in cotton seed and soybean meal, and this is a major advantage for this meal

The chemical composition of mitoin in this flour is another advantage for this flour and it increases the nutritional value of this product and has a significant effect on the growth of young calves. The protein in this flour is rich in sulfur amino acids and is more degradable than other oily meals, which makes microbial decomposition easier

This meal is very useful for young calves and growing females. If sunflower meal is combined with soybean meal and fed to livestock, especially dairy cows, it increases milk production

This flour is a valuable and rich source of calcium (0.43%), phosphorus (1%) and vitamin B. Sunflower meal improves the quality of livestock products and also increases the amount of fat in milk and the amount of daily milk production of cows. Another advantage of these flours is resistance to mycotoxins

Use of sunflower meal for other animals

One of the advantages of using sunflower meal is that it is free from anti-nutritional factors such as those found in soy, cottonseed and canola, and for this reason, it is considered as a healthy food for all species, its only limitations High fiber and amino acid deficiency. However, residual contamination from sunflower cultivation, harvesting and post-harvest operations may be of concern

The use of copper-containing fertilizers in sunflower cultivation sometimes leads to an increase in the level of copper in sunflower products, among which sheep are more sensitive than other ruminants to chronic poisoning due to the presence of high amounts of copper in sunflower meal. In such cases and to prevent poisoning resulting from high amounts of copper in sunflower meal, it is recommended to use molybdenum sources, such as green feed in the diet of sheep, which may help prevent excessive accumulation of copper in the liver

Sunflower meal has been used for feeding sheep for a long time, and several tests have confirmed that sunflower meal can be used as a protein supplement in the daily diets of sheep without any problems, and in this sense, it is a suitable alternative to soybean meal and Cottonseed meal is considered

Sunflower meal is a valuable source of protein for fish species, which is often used to replace soybean meals, because it is free of trypsin enzyme inhibitors and at the same time has a higher vitamin content than soybean meal. Sunflower meal can be used as a cost-effective alternative to tilapia fish meal. Also, sunflower meal can replace 10-25% of fish meal in tilapia diets

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