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Hemp Seed Evaluated as Potential Livestock Feed

27 October 2009
Manitoba Pork Council


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CANADA - Researchers with the University of Manitoba are confident the nutritional benefits of hemp seed in human food products can be effectively applied to livestock rations, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Hemp products are not currently approved for use in any class of livestock diet but hemp-based products are widely used in human nutrition.

To generate data to support the registration of hemp products in livestock rations researchers are evaluating the safety and effectiveness of hemp seed as a feed ingredient in poultry diets.

Dr Jim House, the head of the University of Manitoba's Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, says studies have shown hemp protein to be highly digestible and that should carry over to most major classes of livestock.

Dr Jim House-University of Manitoba

Right now we're looking at three different classes of hemp products, the hemp seed, the hemp oil and the hemp meal or the protein concentrate.

We're looking at doing production trials in both laying hens and in broiler chickens and generating data on performance, on any issues related to health indices and we're also going to be collecting data on the quality of the eggs and on the meats of the broiler chickens.

Once we've got all that data we'll be able to generate significant evidence in support of the use of hemp in livestock diets, in particular poultry diets at this stage.

Another unique aspect that we're going to be looking at is because hemp is a nice oil in terms of its fatty acid composition, it has a significant amount of omega-3, in particular the alpha-Linolenic acid, we're looking to see whether of not the use of hemp seed or hemp oil will allow us to make claims relative to omega-3 content within either boiler meat or in eggs.

This carries over from some studies that we're also doing looking at omega-3 enrichment in poultry products.


Dr House is confident the nutritional benefits of hemp products in human nutrition can be applied to poultry as well as to other livestock species.

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