Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa. It is one of the fastest growing plants and in days past it was one of the first plants that was spun into usable fiber. It can also be refined into several commercial products including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, and food. Although marijuana and industrial hemp are derived from Cannabis sativa, hemp has much lower concentrations of the psychoactive component THC and higher cannabidiol (CBD) which decreases its psychoactive effects. The production of hemp has been illegal for many years because of its resemblance to marijuana. Recently it has become legal. This is leading to the development of new products.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to push the use of hemp seed oil in dog and cat foods. It is expected that hemp oil will be an approved pet food ingredient by the end of 2019, if not earlier. Many pet owners believe that hemp oil will help with anxiety and depressions. Some pet products containing hemp are already on the market, although they have not been approved at this time.
While there is no evidence that hemp oils have psychoactive or medicinal properties as many believe, there are some nutritional benefits. Hemp oil is a well-balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, the ground seed is gluten free and can serve as a vegetarian protein source. It is believed that the approval of hemp oil for use with hemp oil for dogs and cats will open the door to other hemp ingredients and additional species.
It is believed that poultry will be the first species to be allowed hemp feeds, followed by sheep. These feed ingredients could include hemp flour and hemp seed cake as well as hemp-derived silage and pulp.
With hemp production only just becoming legal, it is likely that demand will outstrip supply. As a result, hemp could price itself out of the inclusion in feed.
Citation: ‘First hemp-based animal feed approvals expected in 2019.” by Emma Penrod of Watt Publishing.