Is There a Place for Canamaize in Pig Diets?

Ian R. Seddon, Bruce Brolley and Mike Yacentiuk, Manitoba Agriculture and Food

A new crop that has appeared in some producers' fields in the past year is Canamaize. This is a new corn family that is reported to offer several advantages, such as early maturity, short stature and improved yield potential outside of the traditional corn growing areas, over traditional corn hybrids Another advantage is that Canamaize can be solid seeded; it is not a row crop. Thus, a producer can use existing cereal planting equipment. It has been suggested that Canamaize can replace feed barley in diets. However, there is little information using direct comparisons between barley and Canamaize regarding their growth characteristics and nutritional composition. This information is critical before one decides to use this product as an ingredient in pig rations. Interest in the potential use of Canamaize in pig diets was the basis for a project to determine the nutritional composition of Canamaize grown in Manitoba. The authors thank Canamaize of Minto, Manitoba and Manitoba Agriculture and Food, Central Region, for providing funding for this project.

In 1999, a series of test plots were established at several locations in Manitoba to observe the growth of Canamaize and barley. Agronomic data from these test plots is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Agronomic Data from Three Plot Locations in Manitoba (1999)

Location A

Location B

Location C





















Based on the agronomic information, Canamaize had higher yields than barley at each location. Samples of the barley and Canamaize were obtained for proximate chemical analysis and vomitoxin (DON) contamination. There were three samples from each location. In addition, a further eleven samples of Canamaize were obtained from producers in Manitoba. The results, on an as-fed basis, from the chemical analyses are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Summary of Canamaize and Barley Analysis1 from Manitoba Samples

% Moisture

% Crude Protein

ME Mcal/kg


Barley (plot)





Canamaize (plot)





Canamaize (all)





Corn* Barley*

11.0 11.0

8.3 11.0

3.42 2.91

  1. Chemical analysis completed at Norwest Labs, Winnipeg, MB * From Swine NRC (1998).

In addition to the proximate chemical analyses, Canamaize samples were analyzed for total amino acids (Table 3). All values are reported as grams of amino acid per 100 grams of dry matter.

Table 3. Amino Acid Composition of Canamaize

AA g/100 g DM AA g/100 g DM AA g/100 g DM
Aspartic Acid 1.01 Glutamic Acid 2.37 Cystine 0.14
Threonine 0.48 Glycine 0.49 Valine 0.70
Serine 0.53 Alanine 0.96 Methionine 0.28
Isoleucine 0.51 Tyrosine 0.45 Histidine 0.38
Leucine 1.63 Phenylalanine 0.63 Lysine 0.40
Ammonia 0.22 Arginine 0.57 Proline 1.14

What can be interpreted from this information? From an agronomic point of view, Canamaize appears to produce a reasonable yield under Manitoba field conditions (Table 1). From a chemical composition point of view, there are obvious differences between barley and Canamaize (Table 2). Both Manitoba barley and Canamaize had higher crude protein levels compared to the published values for pigs. The metabolisable energy (ME) values obtained are not much different that expected. The amino acid levels, particularly the lysine content of Canamaize is typical for a grain that contained the reported crude protein level (Table 3). The vomitoxin (DON) levels are of interest since these levels indicate that Canamaize can become infested with Fusarium similar to barley. The reported levels could cause some intake problems with pigs. Although there are some differences in the average values that are shown, there was considerable variation (ranging from < 0.1 PPM to > 6.0 PPM) among the DON levels for both barley and Canamaize.

In summary, the information that is reported in this article is the first of its kind for Canamaize. It would appear that this product does provide producers with an additional ingredient to consider for use in pig diets. Using the chemical composition data, Canamaize could substitute for feed wheat, based on energy content, in a pig's diet. Canamaize can be used as a substitute for barley, however due to its higher energy content growth performance and carcass composition may be affected. Consult with your nutritionist to determine how Canamaize will best fit in your feeding program. Obtaining some performance data from pigs fed Canamaize rations would be a reasonable follow-up to the current project and provide further information about the place for Canamaize in a pig's diet.