One of the bigger markets that will be created from a regulated and thriving hemp industry will be the animal farm feed industry. At 40 percent, livestock account for a big chunk of the value of the EU’s agricultural output. The importance of livestock varies from one member state to another: from 21 percent in predominantly arable Romania to 75 percent in Ireland with its many sheep and cattle.
Currently, animals are fed on a soy based feed. Soy contains a high concentration of essential amino acids and is the main source of protein in our global food supply. What if Hemp feed were a healthier and more nutritious solution?
In a recent article, ICBC broke down the latest testing happening in this sector in America.
'A US Department of Agriculture-funded study of hemp-based cattle feed, which has been underway since 2020 has begun to deliver intriguing results. Cows can completely digest all parts of the hemp plant, including stems, stalks, and other “waste” parts not used for other purposes.
Giving industrial hemp to cows appears to help them feel less stressed and may even be good for their overall health. The effects of the plant, in other words, may be similar in both humans and cattle. Furthermore, this is a very efficient use of parts of the hemp plant that are not normally used – creating a highly efficient end-use product.
This study examined 16 Holstein steers, split into two groups. One group was fed nothing more than their normal feed for a period of two weeks. The other group consumed their feed, mixed with hemp that gave every cow a daily dose of 5.5 mg of cannabidiolic acid per kilo of body weight. Blood samples were taken from all cows to understand how hemp affected each study participant.
The cows that ate CBD began to show lower cortisol and prostaglandin levels in their blood. Both of these chemicals are common markers of stress. They also spent more time lying down than the control group.
Cows who suffer elevated levels of stress, either from early weaning or cramped quarters, are more prone to developing respiratory infections or other diseases.
Despite these encouraging results, American farmers are still not allowed, by mandate of the USDA, to feed hemp to any livestock bound for human consumption. The reason is that the US government is still concerned that minute amounts of THC might linger in meat or milk from cows who have consumed the hemp plant. This latest study shows that these concerns are not valid.'
Edward Hanbidge (Co-Founder Keadeen Farm / Hemptech)
Edward Hanbidge is a leading Irish organic farmer and the co-founder of renowned Keadeen Farm, and Hemptech in Wicklow. He works alongside his brother Spencer and his father John. They run cattle, and sheep and grow about 20 acres of hemp each year in Wicklow, Ireland.
WHY USE HEMP CAKE AS A FEED?
"First and foremost we can grow the protein source in Ireland. We cannot grow soya in Ireland and it requires logistics to get here and has a large carbon footprint.
Hemp cake is a more digestible form of food than soya. Our hemp cake is 35% protein and very high in fiber as well. It does not have Trypsin which is a protein inhibitor, which means it prevents the absorption of protein.
What I have found is the cattle seem to like the hemp cake and do very well on it. It has all the minerals that are not in soya. Like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. It also has all the amino acids to boot.
Our hens go absolutely wild for the hemp cake and with the omegas, the hemp makes the eggs healthier and tastier.
For the horses, we have fed the pellet form to the horses, and some like it, and some do not. For those who do not like the pellets, we feed them the hemp protein in powder form, which is 43% protein.
The sheep have been feeding on whole hemp seed in lambing season which means they have lots of milk for the lambs. They can also digest the seed, unlike the cattle.
We are being told to reduce all of our chemical inputs and hemp does not need to be sprayed. It is working for any rotation for farmers. When talking about carbon footprints, it will take in 10 tonnes of carbon in a growing season. Which is the same as your mature forestry. "
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