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Scientists explore chickpeas for animal feed

Scientists explore chickpeas for animal feed

Researchers used the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon

Staff Writer

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) explore chickpeas and their potential use as feed for ruminant animals such as cattle.

The study used the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at USask to learn more about the chickpea variety, CDC Cory.

The researchers “were interested looking at the literal composition of chickpeas and they wanted to understand the distribution of different nutrients like protein, lipids and carbohydrates in chickpeas on a microscopic scale,” said Dr. Chithra Karunakaran. She is a senior scientist and science manager at the CLS.

The research team included Dr. Peiqiang Yu, a professor at Usask. Yu and his team started this study because they wanted to find alternative feed materials for animals. Since chickpeas are high in protein, it was a good choice for the study, said Karunakaran.

“The research team… were interested in where proteins are highly concentrated. For example, in the laboratory, if you want to look at the total protein and total lipids, you crush the whole chickpea seed and you don't know where the protein is highly concentrated versus carbohydrates and lipids. (At the CLS), what we can do is we can take a cross section of a chickpeas seed, and then we can say exactly where the protein is highly localized,” she told

The work done by the team is preliminary, but they plan to continue to work at the CLS, said Karunakaran.

“They are going to come back and look at different varieties, also the processing steps. So, if the chickpea is roasted using a microwave, will it change the quality of protein and protein distribution?” she said.

Doing this work can help determine varieties of chickpeas that could be used for animal feed in the future and could open up new markets for chickpea producers, said Karunakaran.

Photo credit: Canadian Light Source photo


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