The study investigated whether heat treatment (190 °C for 90 min) could improve the quality of expeller canola meal (CM) protein in finishing diets of Meatmaster lambs. Five isonitrogenous and isoenergetic diets were formulated by partially (50%) or completely replacing SBM as the major protein source with untreated or heat-treated CM in a commercial lamb finishing diet. Diets were randomly allocated to 40 lambs (24.73 ± 1.311 kg; 4.5 months old) for 77 days. No dietary differences were observed for growth performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality. Diets had no effect (p > 0.05) on blood parameters, except for hemoglobin and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Lambs that were fed the control diet had higher hemoglobin concentration compared with lambs on CM-containing diets. The highest AST value was observed when SBM was completely replaced with untreated CM (159.88 IU/L), while complete replacement with heat-treated CM resulted in the lowest AST value (103.25 IU/L). All lambs had a body condition score of 3 at slaughter. It was concluded that heat treatment did not improve the protein value of CM. However, CM inclusion promoted similar growth performance and meat quality parameters in lambs as SBM. Untreated CM can be used to completely substitute SBM in finishing diets of Meatmaster lambs.
Keywords: dietary protein; growth performance; heat treatment; hematology; sheep.