Canadian Feed Pea Production and Usage

Michael Yacentiuk, P.Ag., Swine Specialist, Carmen

During the last decade, Canadian production of peas has increased by 450% with most of the increase attributable to expanded seeded acreage. Because of this surge in production, Canada is expected to become the world's largest producer of dry peas in 2000-2001 with a 23% share of world production. France is forecast to be a close second with 21% of total production.

Most pea production occurs in the Prairie Provinces. In 1999-2000, Saskatchewan accounted for 72% of national production, Alberta 23.5% and Manitoba 4%. The remaining 0.5 percentage was produced in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Preliminary results for 1999 indicate that Canada's share of the total export market was 40%; making it the largest exporter of peas in the world. The significant importing regions for Canadian peas are Western Europe and Asia. In Western Europe, where peas are destined mainly for livestock feed, the countries of Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands import the most followed by Germany and Italy. In Asia, where pea usage is mostly for human consumption, India and increasingly China, are significant importers. Approximately 35% of total Canadian pea production is used in Canada, especially for pig feed, with the remaining 65% exported.

The nutritional and feeding qualities of field peas, either as the sole protein supplement or in combination with canola meal, have been widely demonstrated. Pig farmers have taken notice of these characteristics and are incorporating this locally produced feed ingredient into their swine rations. However, field peas may possess a feeding benefit in addition to those normally reported.

Peas or pea-canola combinations generally have higher inclusion rates than soybean meal in simple diets; approaching 40% for some classes of swine. As fusarium head blight continues to move up the black and dark brown soil zones of Western Canada, DON infected grains are becoming more prevalent. The additional displacement of cereal grains in rations by peas or pea combinations could provide a slight benefit in fusarium affected areas. The result would be the possible use of cereal grains that normally may not have been considered for incorporation in swine diets due to their borderline DON infection.

Of course, the final test, beyond palatability and availability, of including an ingredient into rations is the effect on diet economics. Generally, if an opportunity exists to decrease ration cost without deleteriously affecting pig performance or pork quality then a diet change is warranted. With a current market price (September 2000) for peas of less than $130 per tonne, the inclusion of peas in pig diets could provide savings approaching $2.50 per market pig (23 - 113 kg). Savings of this magnitude are quite significant and should definitely be capitalized upon.

For more information on feeding peas to swine, contact your nearest Manitoba Agriculture and Food Swine Specialist.