$200,000 has been given to Researchers at Kansas State University to help them learn more about using non-psychoactive cannabis for cattle feed. The grant, which the U.S.D.A. National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded, will be used to assess the level of cannabinoids in cows who have eaten industrial hemp.
If you’re wondering why this would even be a thing, you might be surprised to know that in the U.S., feeding hemp to livestock is banned in many states. The potential for cannabinoids to accumulate in milk and meat products is what has driven the ban, but it is unknown if this is true or not.
In many parts of the world, hemp-fed livestock is an everyday practice. Dutch farmers have embraced the approach for years, and at least one CBD brand in Denmark already does this as part of their sustainability program.
A Useful Crop
Hemp is well known for its multiple applications. Although its fame has risen due to the CBD craze, the plant is part of our national history. Hemp fiber is used for hempcrete, rope, and textiles, seeds are used for fuel and food, and flowers become therapeutic oils and topical remedies.
Using what is left as food for cattle seems like a brilliant idea. So what’s the problem?
THC’s Intoxicating Effects
The main issue, it seems, is that regulators are worried that the trace amounts of THC found in the hemp plant could build up over time, potentially contaminating meat and dairy products with the intoxicating compound.
Researchers aim to find out if these fears are warranted. It is already known that cattle can easily digest hemp byproducts such as leaves, plant fibers, and fodder. However, it is not known what the concentration of cannabinoids is in the tissues after consumption. Further, the effect on the animals themselves is also unknown.
A Comprehensive Study
The project brings together a multidisciplinary team consisting of horticulture experts, pharmacologists, analytical chemists, toxicologists, and several other K-State researchers. In follow-up studies, the group plans to look at how hemp influences behavior and immunity in the animals.
A similar study is being conducted on sheep by the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture.
The studies are essential because they have the potential to put the issue to bed once and for all. If hemp-fed livestock becomes a viable option, it will be a triple win between hemp farmers who want a sustainable option for dealing with fodder, cattle farmers who will have a new and abundant source of feed, and the environment.