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Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Macadamia, macadamia nut, Hawaii nut, Queensland nut [English]; noix de possum, noix du Queensland [French]; مكاداميا كاملة الأوراق [Arabic]; 夏果,夏威夷果,澳洲坚果 [Chinese]; マカダミア[Japanese]; Mắc ca lá nhẵn [Vietnamese]

Related feed(s) 

The macadamia tree (Macadamia integrifolia Maiden & Betche, Macadamia ternifolia F. Muell. and Macadamia tetraphylla L.A.S. Johnson) is a tropical and subtropical tree valued for its edible oily nuts (kernels). Culled macadamia nuts, nuts husks and macadamia oil cake resulting from the oil extraction of nuts can be used as animal feeds.


Macadamia trees are tropical or subtropical evergreen trees reaching 20 m high. They have a dense, dark green canopy. The leaves are petiolated, borne in pairs, triplets or fours. The leaf blades are oblong, about 30 cm long, dantate. The flowers are borne on long spikes. The fruits are drupes, 2-3 cm in diameter. The external envelop of the fruit is a fleshy green husk. At maturity the fruits are shed from the trees and the husk splits open. Inside, the nut consists in a hard shell and a very oily kernel. High grade quality macadamia nuts must have more than 72% oil (Bittenbender et al., 2011; Duke, 1983).


Macadamia nuts are mainly used for food. The tasty nuts (kernels), slightly reminding of coconut, can be eaten raw or roasted as snacks. Macadamia nuts are ingredients of confectionery (chocolate-covered nuts), bakery and ice-cream specialties. Macadamia nuts are so relished by rats, wild pigs and cockatoos, that these animals are considered as pests by macadamia producers in Hawaii and Australia (Hamilton et al., 1959; Bittenbender et al., 1990; Tobin et al., 1993; Wilkinson, 2005). The nuts yield valuable oil used in cosmetics (skin and hair care, soaps, shampoos) or as salad or cooking oil. Husks and shells can be mulched for fertilizer. Shells can be used as fuel for nut roasting or as a substitute of sand in sand-blasting process. Macadamia trees can be planted as ornamental or in agroforestry systems (in association with coffee plants or other cash crops) (Bittenbender et al., 2011; Duke, 1983).

Macadamia nuts are mainly produced for human consumption, and are commercialised at a relatively high price. Except for culled nuts, they are thus unlikely to be used profitably for livestock, except perhaps for pets. The oil-rich and sometimes protein-rich macadamia oil cake obtained after oil extraction has potential as a feed ingredient for livestock.


Macadamia trees are native to coastal rainforests of Central East Australia (New South Wales and Queensland) where they started being cultivated relatively recently (1950s). The tree was introduced to Hawaii in 1881 where it started being commercially developed in 1922. The main macadamia producers are the USA (Hawaii, Florida and California), Sri Lanka, France (La Réunion island) and some South American and African countries (Shigeura et al., 1984; Duke, 1983). Macadamia trees are found in warm temperate (frost free) dry through tropical moist forest areas, from sea level up to 800 m elevation, in Hawaii. They can grow where annual rainfall is between 700 and 2600 mm and where annual temperature ranges from 15 to 25°C. They do well on a wide range of deep, well-drained, rather acidic soils with pH of 4.5 to 6.5. Macadamia grows best along coasts with high humidity and heavy rainfall. Inland, tree thrives in some localities but crops are usually lighter than when grown near coast. Macadamia trees are sensitive to strong winds (Bittenbender et al., 2011; Duke, 1983). 

Though macadamia nuts are relished, they only represent 1% of worldwide nut production, far behind almonds, walnuts, pistacchios, hazelnuts or pecan nuts in the international trade (INC, 2019). The worldwide in-shell production was 220 000 t in 2020. Australia was the first producer with 49 200 t in 2019 and Hawaii ranked second with 20 350 t (HIA, 2020; NASS, 2020).


Kernel preparation

Once macadamia fruits have been harvested, they are dehusked within 24h to prevent spoilage. Husking is done by friction against soft rubber. Once the nut in shell is obtained, it is dried in two steps: a first natural drying on trays in the shade lowers moisture down to 10%, and a second one, using forced a convection dryer, reduces moisture close to 3.5%. The dried nuts go to shell breakers and the shells are removed manually or mechanically. The high grade kernels can stay raw or they can be roasted and then used for candy, snacks or ice-creams. The small, damaged or broken kernels can be used for oil extraction (Navarro et al., 2016; Shigeura et al., 1984).

Oil extraction

Macadamia oil extraction is traditionally done under cold pressure (temperature below 30°C) in hydraulic presses. This operation yields a tasty, golden yellow oil which has a valuable low peroxide index (antioxidant property) but is also relatively prone to rancidity. Macadamia oil should be stored at 20°C and no longer than 9-15 months (Navarro et al., 2016).

Macadamia oil cake

After cold pressing extraction, the oil-rich macadamia oil cake can be used as an ingredient in food or as a feed for farm animals (Navarro et al., 2016).

Forage management 


Though it is possible to sow macadamia nuts, vegetative propagation is preferred for commercial orchards. Plantings can be obtained with cuttings, marcottage and side-tongue grafts (Bittenbender et al., 2011; Duke, 1983). The main driver for orchard management is the volume of canopy/ha which reflects the optimal combination of tree density and tree volume. In Australia, 43500 m3 canopy/ha have been recommended for early and durable nut production (AMS, 2017). Trees have been reported to reach their full production potential between 10 and 20 years after planting (Shigeura et al., 1984).


An average yield of 2.6 t/ha has been obtained in Hawaii in 2020. In Australia, during the 2014-2019 period, average yields have been reported to increase from 2.6 to 3.2 t/ha with high producing orchards at 6 t/ha (AMS, 2019).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are mainly a source of energy due to their large amount of oil, between 65 and 80% DM. This oil is rich in oleic acid (40-70% fatty acids) and palmitoleic acid (18-36% fatty acids). The fibre content is low.

Macadamia oil cake

The composition of macadamia oil cake shows considerable variation, to the point it could be considered to be several products. The most common type contains about 14-26% DM of protein, 23-39% DM of crude fibre, and 9-24% of residual oil. However, there are samples of macadamia oil cake recorded with more than 50% oil, barely lower than the nut itself (Marconato et al., 2021), or less than 5% crude fibre (Balogun et al., 1995), or less than 5% protein (Barrows et al., 2015). As the result, it can be a product with a high nutritive value (good protein and lipid content) or one of more limited value when the fibre is high.

Potential constraints 


Intoxication with macadamia nuts as been described in dogs (> 1-2 g/kg BW), but dogs are the only species in which toxicity has been reported (Botha et al., 2009; Kovalkovicova et al., 2009; Panagopoulou et al., 2020).


Macadamia oil cake

Macadamia oil cake is a highly digestible and degradable feed can be used in ruminant diets. Its in vitro digestibility was 79% and it had in situ DM and protein degradabilities reaching up to 70 and 90% respectively (Skenjana et al., 2006). Macadamia oil cake is also rich in fibre fractions and an interesting source of minerals (Ca and K) (Nkosi et al., 2019).

A mixture of nuts and hull chips was found to be poorly degradable, suggesting that it contains a high proportion of indigestible components, and it was thus not suitable as a ruminant feed (Skenjana et al., 2006).

Growing cattle

In South Africa, the substitution of soybean meal and maize grain by macadamia oil cake (10 or 20% inclusion in the diet) did not significantly affect DM intake of yearling cattle. Average daily gains were higher while feed conversion ratio was the lowest at the 20% inclusion rate. It was concluded that macadamia oil cake had no negative effect on feed intake, growth performance and carcass characteristics in feedlot cattle when fed at rates of up 20% of the whole diet (Acheampong-Boateng et al., 2008).


Macadamia oil cake included at 5 to 20% levels in diets, as a substitution of soybean meal or milled maize, had little effects on the performance of lambs. In South Africa, inclusion of 5% macadamia oil cake in sheep diets seemed to provide the best results in terms of carcass characteristic measurements (Acheampong-Boateng et al., 2017). In Brazil, the feed conversion ratio was slightly improved at the 20% inclusion rate (Marconato et al., 2021).

Macadamia nuts

Feed-grade macadamia nuts can be included up to 10% in concentrates for ruminants without adverse effects. Higher levels in ruminant feeds decrease feed intake and digestibility because of the high fat content of the nuts.


Ground macadamia nuts were shown to successfully replace grains (cracked maize grain and rolled barley) in concentrate sheep rations with no adverse effect on DM intake. However, it was suggested to keep it below 10% of the diet because of lower nutrient digestibility levels recorded at higher inclusion rates (Sherrod et al., 1967).


Macadamia oil cake was assessed in Hawaii to replace conventional feedstuffs in pig diets. It was found to have a fairly high energy digestibility (71%) though its lysine content remained below pig requirements. It was thus a potential viable alternative source of energy and protein in pig diets, but further growth performance studies in pigs are necessary to establish recommendations (Tiwari et al., 2017).


In Brazil, the AMEn of macadamia oil cake estimated in broilers was 12.13 MJ/kg DM, which makes it a potential feed ingredient comparable to conventional ones. However, its variability may limit its use in broilers diets and systematic analysis should be done prior to include it in formulas for chicken (Berrocoso et al., 2017)

Several experiments have been conducted in order to establish an adequate inclusion level for macadamia oil cake in broilers diets. In South Africa, increasing levels of macadamia oil meal, in combination with a source of Ca (CaCO3 ou ash containing Ca) were given to broilers from 1 day-old to 15 weeks. The trial where the diet contained 100% macadamia oil cake had to be stopped after 8 weeks as the high level of macadamia had detrimental effects on broilers (growth retardation, and low weight gains). It was shown that up to 10% macadamia oil meal could be included in broiler diets without causing adverse effects on animal growth specially during the starter phase. Up to 50% inclusion was feasible for older animals (Phosa, 2009). In Hawaii, up to 150 g/kg macadamia oil cake could be included in broiler diets without compromising growth performance, confirming that macadamia oil cake could be used as an alternative feedstuff to partially replace maize and soybean meal (Yadav et al., 2021).


Macadamia nuts

No information seems available in the international literature (as of 2021) on the use of macadamia nuts in rabbit feeding. Their general good nutritive value for humans (and pests) and absence of toxicity (except for dogs) makes them a potential ingredients for rabbit diets, but their price probably limits them to the pet market.

Macadamia oil cake

No information seems available in the international literature (as of 2021) on the use of macadamia nut oil cake in rabbit feeding. However this cake could used in cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens without detrimental effect (see sections above). Thus, macadamia oil cake can most probably be used also in rabbit feeding, but some direct experiments would be welcome. Its (sometimes) high level of lignin would be valuable for the digestive health of rabbits (Rao et al., 2020; Tiwari et al., 2017; Gidenne, 2015).


Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Macadamia oil cake was used as a protein source in the diet of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) as a replacer of full-fat soybean meal. It was found to be suitable as a dietary supplement for fish when used at up to 50% replacement of soybean protein. Over 50% inclusion, the limiting factor was reported to be its suboptimal amino acid content (Balogun et al., 1995).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 97.9   97.4 98.4 2  
Crude protein % DM 9.5   9 9.9 2  
Crude fibre % DM 9.2       1  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 21         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 12.3         *
Lignin % DM 3.6         *
Ether extract % DM 74.3 4.3 65.4 79.7 11  
Ash % DM 1.3   1.2 1.4 2  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 34.3         *
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Alanine g/16g N 4.3       1  
Arginine g/16g N 12.1       1  
Aspartic acid g/16g N 6.6       1  
Cystine g/16g N 6.3       1  
Glutamic acid g/16g N 19       1  
Glycine g/16g N 4.5       1  
Histidine g/16g N 1.2       1  
Isoleucine g/16g N 1.7       1  
Leucine g/16g N 3.8       1  
Lysine g/16g N 3.2       1  
Methionine g/16g N 0.9       1  
Methionine+cystine g/16g N 7.3         *
Phenylalanine g/16g N 2.1       1  
Phenylalanine+tyrosine g/16g N 5.3         *
Proline g/16g N 3.3       1  
Serine g/16g N 3.6       1  
Threonine g/16g N 2.3       1  
Tyrosine g/16g N 3.2       1  
Valine g/16g N 2.4       1  
Fatty acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Myristic acid C14:0 % fatty acids 1 0.3 0.7 1.6 11  
Palmitic acid C16:0 % fatty acids 10.1 1.6 8.1 13.1 11  
Palmitoleic acid C16:1 % fatty acids 25.5 4.9 18.1 36 11  
Stearic acid C18:0 % fatty acids 4.9 0.8 3.6 6.1 11  
Oleic acid C18:1 % fatty acids 48.3 8.8 40 69.9 11  
Linoleic acid C18:2 % fatty acids 2.6 0.7 1.6 3.7 11  
Linolenic acid C18:3 % fatty acids 0.2 0.08 0.1 0.4 11  
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 1       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.5       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 9       1  
Copper mg/kg DM 3       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 58       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 81.6         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 28         *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 27.5         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 23.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 82.7         *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 26.5         *
AMEn broiler MJ/kg DM 24.8         *
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 80.4         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 88.6         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 25.4         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 62         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 36.2         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 35.7         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 100         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 72.2         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Aquino-Bolaños et al., 2017; Chung et al., 2013; Madawala et al., 2012; Sherrod et al., 1967

Last updated on 22/11/2021 02:13:00

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 93.5 1.6 91.2 95.3 6  
Crude protein % DM 17.9 4.7 13.6 25.5 6  
Crude fibre % DM 29.8 6.9 23 38.8 5  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 47.4 7.9 35.8 55.4 7  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 38.7 7 28 46.2 6  
Lignin % DM 10.8 5.7 3 16 5  
Ether extract % DM 13.6 5.9 8.5 24.3 6  
Ash % DM 3.3 0.3 3 3.7 5  
Starch (polarimetry) % DM 23.4         *
Starch (enzymatic) % DM 19.6   11.1 28.1 2  
Total sugars % DM 11.8       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 22   18.5 23.4 3 *
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Alanine g/16g N 4.2   3.2 5.1 3  
Arginine g/16g N 8   5.6 8.9 4  
Aspartic acid g/16g N 8.1   7.7 8.6 3  
Cystine g/16g N 1.9       1  
Glutamic acid g/16g N 14.4   12.9 17.2 3  
Glycine g/16g N 4.6   3.9 5.3 2  
Histidine g/16g N 2.1   1.8 2.6 3  
Isoleucine g/16g N 3.1   2.8 3.6 4  
Leucine g/16g N 5.7   5 6.4 4  
Lysine g/16g N 3.9   3.2 4.8 3  
Methionine g/16g N 1.1   0.5 1.4 4  
Methionine+cystine g/16g N 3       1 *
Phenylalanine g/16g N 3.3   2.9 3.5 3  
Phenylalanine+tyrosine g/16g N 6.8         *
Proline g/16g N 4.6   4.3 4.9 3  
Serine g/16g N 4.5   3.7 5.2 3  
Threonine g/16g N 3.1   2.7 3.7 4  
Tryptophan g/16g N 1.1   0.7 1.5 2  
Tyrosine g/16g N 3.5   1.5 5.9 3  
Valine g/16g N 4   3.6 4.6 4  
Fatty acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Myristic acid C14:0 % fatty acids 0.8   0.7 1 2  
Palmitic acid C16:0 % fatty acids 8.5   8.2 8.9 2  
Palmitoleic acid C16:1 % fatty acids 19.8   19.6 20 2  
Stearic acid C18:0 % fatty acids 2.9   2.7 3.1 2  
Oleic acid C18:1 % fatty acids 57.5       1  
Linoleic acid C18:2 % fatty acids 2.6   2.6 2.6 2  
Linolenic acid C18:3 % fatty acids 0.3   0.2 0.4 2  
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 2.3 1.2 1.2 4.2 5  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.2 0.9 2.3 4.2 5  
Potassium g/kg DM 8.3   5.8 10.1 3  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.29   0.21 0.36 2  
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.5   2.4 2.6 3  
Manganese mg/kg DM 52       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 37       1  
Copper mg/kg DM 8       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 234       1  
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 44.8         *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 9.8         *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 9.5         *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 7.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 54.4         *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 13.1         *
AMEn broiler MJ/kg DM 12.5         *
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 80         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 80.2         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 14         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 76.8         *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 80       1  
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 84       1  
a (N) % 29       1  
b (N) % 66       1  
c (N) h-1 0.2       1  
Dry matter degradability (effective, k=6%) % 60       1  
Dry matter degradability (effective, k=4%) % 64       1  
a (DM) % 32       1  
b (DM) % 49       1  
c (DM) h-1 0.08       1  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.5         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 9.8         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 47.8         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 77.9         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Acheampong-Boateng et al., 2008; Berrocoso et al., 2017; Mikasi, 2018; Nkosi et al., 2019; Phosa, 2009; Skenjana et al., 2006; Tiwari et al., 2017

Last updated on 23/11/2021 10:32:08

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Edouard N., Lebas F., 2021. Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/35 Last updated on November 23, 2021, 10:52