Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

NOTE Organic poultry diets cannot include oil meals that have been produced through a solvent oil extraction method. They can, however, use oil meals that are a by-product of mechanical oil extraction.

A number of different oilseeds are used for the production of dietary oil. Oil can be extracted from oilseeds through solvent extraction or mechanical extraction. The means of extraction may affect the nutritional content of the meal made from the seed remnants after extraction. The examples below contrast the two means of extraction:

  • Solvent extraction: The Association of America Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines cottonseed meal, solvent extracted, as the product obtained by finely grinding the flakes that remain after the removal of most of the oil from cottonseed by a solvent extraction process. This type of cottonseed meal must contain not less than 36% crude protein. The words solvent extracted are not required when listing cottonseed meal as an ingredient in a manufactured feed.
  • Mechanical extraction: AAFCO defines cottonseed meal, mechanical extracted, as the product obtained by finely grinding the cake which remains after removal of most of the oil from cottonseed by a mechanical extraction process. This type of cottonseed meal must contain not less than 36% crude protein. The words mechanical extracted are not required when listing cottonseed meal as an ingredient in a manufactured feed.


Camelina, also known as false flax, contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Camelina meal is a new by-product from oil extraction for biodiesel production. Camelina meal contains secondary plant metabolites called glucosinolates that adversely affect broiler performance.


Canola is a variety of rapeseed that is low in glucosinolates in the oil and erucic acid in the meal. The name canola was coined to distinguish the plant from rapeseed, though in Europe canola is often referred to as double-zero rapeseed. Canola meal is a by-product of oil extraction from canola seeds.


Cottonseed meal has less crude protein, dietary energy, and available lysine content than more commonly used soybean meal. Cottonseed meal also contains the antinutritional factors of gossypol and cyclopropenoid fatty acids. Glandless cottonseeds have been developed that almost eliminate gossypol in cottonseed meals.


Because the availability of peanut meal, also called groundnut meal, is low in the United States, and because peanuts have the potential for mycotoxin contamination, very little research has been done on the use of peanut meal in poultry diets. It is unclear whether allergens from peanuts are carried into the eggs and meat of poultry that have consumed peanut meal.


Safflower seed is a productive crop under semiarid or rain-fed conditions. Most of the US safflower crop is grown in California, primarily for the bird-feed industry. Safflower was originally grown for its flowers, which were used to create red and yellow dyes for clothing and coloring for foods. Today safflower is grown primarily for its oil, which is used for food and industrial purposes.


Sesame is primarily grown for use in human nutrition. Sesame seed meal is a by-product of oil extract. Compared to soybean meal, sesame seed meal is low in lysine, isoleucine, leucine, and valine. It is, however,  a good source of the sulfur-containing amino acids, including methionine.


Soybeans—primarily in the form of soybean meal, a by-product of oil extraction—are the most commonly used protein source in poultry diets. Because of the presence of antinutritional factors, whole soybeans must be roasted before they can be included in poultry diets.


Sunflower seeds are a common oilseed. Sunflower seed meal is produced as a by-product of oil extraction. Seed processing times and temperatures affect the amount of lysine available in the final meal. The fiber level of the meal depends on the extent to which the seed hulls are removed prior to oil extraction. Maintaining higher levels of hulls improves oil-extraction efficiency, but it also increases the fiber content of the meal, reducing its potential as an ingredient in poultry diets. Variability in the percentage of hulls remaining after oil extraction is the reason that different sources of sunflower seed meal produce highly variable outcomes in poultry performance.