What is Hemp Animal Feed?

What is hemp animal feed

Posted on December 8th, 2021

What is hemp animal feed? Well, it’s a new farming reality. Even a decade ago, people avoided this crop because it was tied to marijuana. But what they didn’t know is that both are different varieties of the same plant family.

On the one hand, you have a plant cultivated for its high percentage of THC. Called the marijuana plant, it’s packed with the psychoactive element that makes you high. But on the other hand, you have hemp, cultivated for low THC content, but still able to offer potential benefits both for humans and animals.

As a result of this difference, animals can consume hemp products. You can use the leaves, hemp seed oil cake, and hemp seeds for livestock feed. And, according to various studies, they’ll experience few to no side effects.

What is Hemp? Explore the Benefits for Animals

What is hemp animal feed
Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

While hemp is popular among humans for reducing the risks of heart diseases, keeping skin diseases away, and reducing symptoms of menopause and PMS, it may also be beneficial for your livestock. Here are a few reasons why you might use this form of animal feed.

• It can improve their digestion.
• The nutrients in this feed may increase their life expectancy.
• This plant provides good meat-like flavor .

Rise of animal feed uses

Before the rise of hemp as animal feed, farmers relied on dried distillers’ grains (DDGs), wheat middling, barley, and soybean meal for livestock. If they faced shortages with one type of food, they could substitute another. (All are equally nutritious.) Unfortunately, though, product prices didn’t fall with bulk purchases. So you paid the same rate, no matter how many animals you were feeding.

Then, as farmers started raising larger herds, they demanded better pricing for protein-rich foods such as the ones mentioned above. At the same time, manufacturers increased prices due to limited supplies. So, while the animal feed market benefited from the byproducts of other industries, many farmers couldn’t afford to feed these nutritious foods to their animals, resulting in protein deficiency.

Luckily, the animal feed shortage coincided with the 2014 Farm Bill passing. And this opened doors for farmers to use hemp as their primary livestock food source. Now, some farmers are still skeptical about feeding hemp to their animals. But, if you’re in that same category, we invite you to consider all the varying hemp effects before making your decision.

First of all, it’s an excellent substitute for traditional animal foods such as rice bran and soybean hulls. Why? It’s a more nutritious, protein-rich food source compared to many alternatives. Secondly, it’s inexpensive. So you won’t need the high pay of sourcing DDGs, barley, or wheat middling.

Effects on animals

Since hemp is still a relatively new food for animals, many farmers are not sure whether it will benefit their animals. But here’s the good news. Various studies suggest that its nutrient-rich elements are suitable for animals. The best part is, you can use its byproducts instead of the whole plant. For example, if you need hemp seed oil, you have to crush and extract oil from the seeds. Later, you can use those crushed seeds to make cakes for feed.

The plant also has a high percentage of protein, fiber, and fatty acids; it also contains a combination of various beneficial minerals. According to a study by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, hempseed cake increases cow’s milk’s nutritional value. In one experiment, farmers fed different amounts of hempseed cake to 40 Swedish red dairy cows for five months. At the end of the experiment, they compared the nutritional value of the cows’ milk with those that didn’t consume hempseed cake. And there was a stark difference, indicating the plant’s nutritional benefits.

Another study by the University of Manitoba suggests that using the plant or its seed oil can make egg yolks more nutritious. In this study, farmers fed their hens both products for a few weeks. The eggs that they produced had a high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids in the yolks.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Hurdles to use hemp as animal feed

There is no doubt that hemp is a good substitute for traditional livestock foods, but there are some hurdles keeping it from becoming the leading form of animal feed. Already, DDGs and hemp share a similar extraction process. And this may soon lead people to consider abolishing DDGs completely, or at least get them thinking about setting up separate hemp manufacturing units.

Since DDG is a byproduct of the corn ethanol industry, manufacturers argue that it would cut down their market if the manufacturing units are used for hemp. Corn ethanol still has a high demand in the country and may not be a good move to use the manufacturing units to make hemp products. On the other hand, setting up new manufacturing units for hemp products will mean a significant establishment cost. This may make hemp products for animals slightly more expensive than what it is now.

Health regulations

Moreover, manufacturers need to follow strict Center for Veterinary Medicine guidelines when adding extracted biomass to animal feed. The Center for Veterinary Medicine is responsible for regulating the foods that farmers provide to animals. They are still conducting studies on whether hemp as biomass is safe for animals or not. If the studies show positive results, it could provide a massive opportunity to the cannabinoid industry. It would not only generate revenue from making hemp and CBD products but also from the byproducts of hemp.

Due to the FDA regulations on hemp and CBD products for humans, the farmers using hemp byproducts for their livestock will also need to make sure that the biomass they add to animal feed follows the FDA guidelines. For example, hemp will only be suitable for animals if it contains less than 0.3% THC. Most importantly, the Center for Veterinary Medicine mentioned that if the studies consider hemp safe for animals, the manufacturers and their facilities must register with the FDA.

FAQs on what is hemp as animal feed

Q: Will feeding hemp get my cow high?

A: Even though hemp has a low THC content, it faces the social stigma associated with marijuana. If you think that hemp will get your cows high, then you are wrong. Hemp hardly has 0.3% THC, which is almost negligible. Weed contains as much as 15 to 40% THC, making it an intoxicating substance.

Q: What’s the average nutrition percentage of hemp compared to DDGs?

A: DDGs usually contain 25 to 30% protein, while hemp contains 44 to 49%. The significant difference in the nutrition percentage makes hemp a worthy substitute for DDGs.

Q: What are the nutrients available in a hemp meal?

A: A hemp meal for your livestock will contain essential nutrients, such as amino acids, high levels of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, and protein.

Hemp feed may soon become the leading product in the animal feed market. If you’re looking for the most reliable provider, make sure to check out Tanasi’s range of full-spectrum CBD and hemp products.

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