Kansas State Study

As land becomes a more valuable resource, finding new and inventive ways to feed livestock and humans alike is a necessity. Over the past several years, wildfires, urban development, and other problems have impacted the livestock feed supply as well as our own. To help combat these problems, some researchers have begun the search for alternative livestock feeds.

The Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine released the findings of a study observing industrial hemp based cattle feed. This line of focus has been a theme with the agriculture dominant college for several years, with the most recent findings published in Applied Animal Science.

According to the results of the study, “Knowledge of the composition of [Industrial Hemp] plant materials is important to assist livestock producers and the research community in investigating the potential use of [Industrial Hemp] as a livestock feed.”

Their research began with the desire to understand how hemp can be used as an alternative livestock feed while at the same time understanding what the effects on the end products will be. There was a concern that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC could be present in the meat produced from animals fed hemp feed. As a leader in the agricultural community, Kansas State University took the lead to get the answers asked by many worldwide. 

Cannabinoids are compounds found within the hemp and marijuana plants that interact with our endocannabinoid systems. Some of the most popular cannabinoids include CBD, CBN, and THC. Each cannabinoid has its own unique properties and can vary in presence depending on the strain, growing conditions, and other factors. Cannabinoids can also impact each individual in differing ways. Current research on individual cannabinoids varies due to the lack of biomass needed for research in past years. However, an influx of biomass on the market has made research opportunities easier. 

This study is one of the first of its kind to determine the long term usage of hemp as an alternative feed source for livestock. Researchers noted the untried territory, commenting within the discussion portion of the study, “The majority of published literature currently focuses on hemp seeds and their concentrations as these are used in human and swine diets.”

The results of the Kansas State study are considered preliminary but create a solid foundation for future research within this niche of the hemp industry. In an interview with Michael Kleinhenz, the assistant professor of beef production medicine at Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine, he states, “Our new research helps us better understand how cannabinoids present in industrial hemp interact with bovine physiology and pharmacology…For instance, we now know that repeated daily doses of CBDA via feeding hemp does not result in accumulation of cannabinoids in the blood. Additionally, it solidified previous research and shows that each cannabinoid has its own absorption and elimination profile.”

Research surrounding industrial hemp has been a focus of study for the Kansas based college for several years now and offers insight into how hemp can be used to help solve many of the problems we face today. Hemp based feed is not a new concept by any means, this agricultural commodity has been used by farmers around the world for hundreds of years. However, new regulations that impact our food supply need to be met. 

Researchers at Kansas State University are making headway with valuable inquiries concerning the food we feed our livestock. The preliminary results from the studies conducted at the agricultural-minded college offer not only insight into alternative feed sources, but how cannabinoids are passed along within the food chain. These findings are not only an exponential win for the hemp community but the agricultural community and our society as a whole.

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