Looking for a way to use spend biomass, researchers at Oregon State University are looking into the possibility of feeding the waste to animals. In a recent study, they fed hemp to lambs at five different levels to see what the final change to the quality of the meat would be.
However for now the USDA doesn’t recognize hemp as safe for animal consumption. So meat from animals that were fed hemp will be considered adulterated. However, that may change if researchers can prove that the plant is safe for animals to consume and they don’t accumulate harmful chemicals in the process.
“Here in Oregon, the majority of hemp is cultivated for CBD extraction with a tremendous amount of post-extraction biomass that has not, at the moment, any market, and it is a nuisance for the hemp industry,” said Massimo Bionaz, one of the OSU faculty members conducting the research. “The fact that the CBD is extracted in plants that are only in bloom vegetative stage and that the CBD is extracted only from flowers and leaves makes this product highly nutritive.”
In each of the five trials, the sheep were given a different feed with a varying ratio of hemp.
- The control group received no hemp.
- The Low Hemp 1 group was fed hemp as 10% of their diet for the first month and then a normal diet the second.
- The Low Hemp 2 group was fed 10% hemp for the full study.
- The High Hemp 1 group was fed 20% hemp for the first month before switching back to a normal diet for the second.
- The High Hemp 2 group was given 20% hemp the whole trial.
After looking at how the feed affects the animals and the meat, scientists will have a better idea of how viable hemp is for this purpose. The initial evidence is promising, with analysis of typical hemp biomass having low amounts of fiber while being high in protein, containing Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants that could theoretically increase the shelf life of the meat.
The final meat will be examined to see if there are any changes to the final smell and taste of the product. The tenderness will also be measured.