Feeding cattle industrial hemp may have a beneficial effect on their welfare.
New veterinary research suggests that feeding cattle industrial hemp seed may have additional health benefits – including making them less stressed.
A new study by Kansas State University has found that feeding cattle industrial hemp may have a beneficial effect on their welfare, reducing stress and inflammation markers.
Michael Kleinhenz, assistant professor of beef production medicine at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, worked with a team of researchers to examine the impact of cannabinoids in livestock which are fed industrial hemp.
His findings, published in the journal, Scientific Reports, conclude that feeding cattle industrial hemp with a high CBDA content for 14 days, “decreases biomarkers of stress and inflammation” in the animals.
Another benefit observed when feeding cattle industrial hemp is that they spend more time lying down, which can help them ruminate and produce saliva.
According to Kleinhenz, cattle experience a variety of stress and inflammation, particularly related to production practices such as transportation and weaning.
He believes that hemp containing cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) may present a natural way to reduce the impact on the animals.
“Cattle experience a variety of stress and inflammation,” said Kleinhenz.
“Our most recent data shows how cannabinoids via industrial hemp decreased the stress hormone cortisol as well as the inflammatory biomarker prostaglandin E2.
“This shows that hemp containing cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, may decrease stress and inflammation in cattle. Thus, hemp may be a natural way to decrease stress and inflammation related to production practices such as transportation and weaning.”
Michael Kleinhenz is assistant professor of beef production medicine at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine
Industrial hemp was legalised in the US under the 2018 Farm Bill, and is defined as Cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3 per cent THC. Since then research has been ongoing to determine how best to make use of the agricultural crop.
Previous studies from researchers at Kansas State University have shown that industrial hemp has favourable crude protein and digestibility profiles, making the crop suitable for inclusion in cattle feed.
“Our new research helps us better understand how cannabinoids present in industrial hemp interact with bovine physiology and pharmacology,” Kleinhenz said.
“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.”
Kleinhenz added: “If hemp is to be utilised as an ingredient in the ration of cattle, it is prudent to know and understand the pharmacokinetics and potential biological effects of cattle exposed to repeated doses of cannabinoids present in industrial hemp.
“The initial data we have collected is essential should industrial hemp and its by-products be considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
“Further work is needed to determine if cannabinoids can alter the stress response in cattle during stressful times such as transportation and weaning, but we hope this research is a step forward in the right direction.”