CORVALLIS, Ore. — Hemp is already touted for its healthful and therapeutic benefits in humans.
Researchers at Oregon State University are now studying whether the plant could also be part of a nutritious diet for livestock.
The project, which received a nearly $300,000 USDA grant in February, aims to determine whether “spent hemp biomass” can be fed to animals including lambs, chickens and dairy cows, and whether any residual cannabis compounds are present in the meat and milk.
The research team, led by Massimo Bionaz, has found this material is similar in both appearance and chemical composition to alfalfa hay, long considered the gold standard of animal forages, especially for dairy cows.
“Personally, when they told me about hemp, I didn’t even know what the plant looked like,” said Bionaz, an associate professor of dairy nutrigenomics at OSU. “The more we analyzed, we were really amazed by the nutritive value.”