Positive results from hemp-based cattle feed study

A study from Oregon State University found that spent hemp biomass left over from CBD extraction – usually just treated as waste or reintroduced to fields – appears to be a good alternative food for lambs.

Considered the first study evaluating the effects of feeding depleted hemp biomass on livestock, the research involved feeding lambs different amounts of depleted hemp biomass (10% and 20% of total feed). Next, the hemp biomass was retained for four weeks and the lambs assessed for carcass characteristics, meat quality and health parameters.

The researchers found that the nutritional quality of spent hemp biomass was comparable to that of alfalfa. Among other findings, feed intake was negatively affected by feeding 20% ​​spent hemp biomass – but only in the short term. At the lower 10% level, feed consumption increased over the long term, but there was no effect on lamb weight.

The OSU researchers note that although the animals’ livers were not affected, a decrease in the ability of the liver to extract or metabolize a drug was observed, which will require further research.

Regarding meat quality, aside from some shrinkage and cooking losses which can also affect tenderness, other aspects related to carcass and meat quality were not affected by the lambs. feeding on depleted hemp biomass.

Overall, the study provided very positive results. But there is one major barrier to using hemp in livestock feed in the United States and a number of other countries – it’s illegal. In the United States, pet foods are federally regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration – Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM). Hemp will first need to be FDA-CVM approved for this application; and he wants a lot of research done before that happens.

“If the Food and Drug Administration approves its use as animal feed, hemp growers may have a market for what is essentially waste and breeders may be able to save money by supplementing their diets with the spent hemp biomass,” Serkan said. Ates, associate professor at the Oregon State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Although still federally illegal, some US states have gone their own way of using hemp as livestock feed. For example, in Montana, hemp can be used for pets and horses; but these animals cannot enter interstate or intrastate commerce because they would be considered “adulterated” at the federal level.

Along the same lines, we mentioned last week that the Idaho State Department of Agriculture was banning animal health supplements containing hemp and CBD based on the “tampering” issue. . Yet, with more research being done on the use of hemp in animals, including livestock, it seems inevitable that at some point the practice will be legal.

The OSU team’s findings were recently published in the Journal of Animal Science.

Learn more about other agricultural uses of hemp.