Hemp Nutrition for Animals

Many studies have been conducted quantifying various nutritional components of hemp seed.  Scientific evidence has supported the advancement of hemp foods in human nutrition but what about animals? It may be hard to believe but in the United States hemp seed and its derivatives are not legally permitted for incorporation into animal or pet feed. Section 7606 of the 2014 farm bill enabled states to adopt industrial hemp research pilot programs. By 2017, thirty four states had adopted hemp legislation. Vote Hemp 2017 Crop Report. Five more states established hemp pilot programs in 2017, bringing the grand total to thirty nine states in 2018. 

To date Colorado and Tennessee have been the only states to incorporate hemp animal feed into legislation. Colorado's piece of legislation, signed in 2017 allows the commissioner of agriculture to create a research group for the sole purpose of studying hemp animal feed feasibility. Senate Bill 17-109 Tennessee's legislation SB1828 reads, "Nothing in this chapter prohibits feeding any part of industrial hemp plants to livestock in this state." This does however limit incorporation of industrial hemp for the commercial retail marketplace. The legislation does allow the sell of animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, etc. to be sold that have been fed industrial hemp. These products could be sold at farmer's markets and stores as value added products and prices could reflect this value add. References below provide scientific support on what nutritional enhancements can occur when livestock feed is supplemented with industrial hemp. Several universities all over the United States are actively conducting scientific research studies to better understand and support the benefits that have previously been observed.

Recently the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents published, "Cannabis: What Veterinarians Need to Know". In this document, which references the DEA several times, the AVMA explains that required scientific review of practicality and safety is required before incorporating hemp into pet food. The concern resides mostly in the cannabinoid concentrations present (THC and CBD). All mammals are reported to possess an endocannabinoid system and there are several brands in the U.S. that provide hemp extracts for pet use. There are also several topical treatments and soaps specifically for pets available containing hemp seed oil. The USDA has reported that hemp seed cake contains 25-30% protein, supporting its incorporation into pet food and livestock feed. Hemp seed cake or meal is a byproduct of pressed hemp seed oil and has been historically utilized for feed purposes.

Additional studies presenting evidence supporting the use of hemp in animal feed. 

The effect of feeding hemp seed meal to laying hens 

Cold-pressed hempseed cake as a protein feed for growing cattle

Effects of increasing amounts of hempseed cake in the diet of dairy cows on the production and composition of milk.


Hemp feed picture found at  Z-Company  

Hemp feed picture found at Z-Company 

Paige Thompson