Researchers at Kansas State University are investigating the effects of feeding industrial hemp to cattle. A $200,000 grant from The U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund the researchers’ curiosity.
“Although hemp can be legally cultivated under license in Kansas, feeding hemp products to livestock remains prohibited because the potential for cannabinoid drug residues to accumulate in meat and milk has not been studied,” Hans Coetzee, a professor at Kansas State University, told the press.
This research will be a preliminary look at the viability of feeding hemp to livestock that will be part of the decision ultimately made by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the FDA.
The worry about feeding hemp to animals is that residual cannabinoids could build up in the tissues of the livestock, introducing the potential drugs to unsuspecting consumers. Since cattle naturally consume fibers very similar to hemp byproducts, namely those rich in cellulose, the plant could be a rich feed for cattle as long as feeding cows hemp doesn’t have unintended consequences.
“Now that we have found that some cannabinoids are readily absorbed from the rumen, the next steps are to study the tissue and milk residue depletion profiles of these compounds after animal feeding experiments,” Coetzee said. “The effects of cannabinoids on cattle are also unknown. Our goal is to fill in the knowledge gaps. Until feedstuffs containing hemp are established as safe in animals, our data will assist producers in managing situations involving intentional or unintentional hemp exposures.”