American hemp farmers have been struggling for a long time as to what to do with their leftovers; the biomass after cannabinoids are extracted from the plant. A lot of this mass is left over, as tons of it are produced every year.
Enter German researchers, who have been experimenting with giving the leftovers to cows – yes, cows – as a source of livestock feed. Not surprisingly, this has raised concerns because THC eventually began showing up in the local milk supply, depending on which type of hemp was fed to the cows.
In addition to the concerns about milk, the researchers made other discoveries – while the THC in the hemp is low enough that it had no effect on the cows that they researched, the scientists did find that when they fed the cows flower buds and leaves, that the THC did take effect: The cows ate less and produced less milk.
Other signs effects from THC consumption included red-rimmed eyes, runny noses, trouble with balance, and an unsteady posture. But all effects went away with a few days of stopping the hemp consumption.
Additionally, researchers at Oregon State who fed hemp to sheep found that the animals retained THC in their muscle and fat, which disappeared weeks after stopping consumption of the hemp.
Further studies indicate that hemp fed cattle were more relaxed, had lower heart and respiratory rates, and not surprisingly – spent more time lying down.
Researchers are overall very optimistic about the long-term potential for using hemp as cattle feed, but cautiously so since hemp consumption does have effects on livestock. So, while hemp is a very versatile, and valuable food source, considerably more research needs to be done before it become a go-to source for cattle feed. Considering that these animals are food-producing, any potential risk to the public needs to first be eliminated.
Sources: New York Times, Nature Food, Nature