Researchers at Kansas State University experiment with hemp as cattle feed


A pair of researchers at Kansas State University have begun experimenting with industrial hemp as a feeding option for cattle producers.

FDA approval would be required before hemp was fed to livestock and other animals but for the time being, Hans Coetzee and Michael Kleinhenz have a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to research how cannabinoids are concentrated in livestock.

So far, research on whether animals feel the impacts of THC has been limited to humans, mice and swine.

“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,” said Coetzee, the head of the anatomy and physiology department in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine said.

Hemp, which rose in popularity thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, typically produces oil, seed, fiber and medicines. According to Kleinhenz, the leaves and fodder that remain after harvest could be used for cattle.

The studies will look at how cattle absorb cannabinoids as well as their behavior and immune function after consuming the feeding hemp.

“Cattle can readily utilize industrial hemp byproducts as they can digest cellulose plant materials in their rumens,” Kleinhenz said. “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.”