Dairy farmers in the Netherlands used to advertise with the legendary slogan ‘Met Melk Meer Mans’. Now that the cows are now also fed with industrial hemp, it may be time for a new marketing campaign: ‘With Milk More Stoned’. A German study shows that eating the tops, leaves and seeds of fiber hemp in particular – which must contain no more than 0.3% THC – can lead to milk containing measurable and excessive amounts of THC! And those cows also seem to get stoned themselves…
Cannabinoids in hemp feed have an effect on dairy cows
Under the evocative title ‘Transfer of cannabinoids into the milk of dairy cows fed industrial hemp can lead to Δ9-THC exposure exceeding the acute reference dose’, the German study was published this week in the scientific journal Natural food.
It turns out that dairy cows fed hemp (not cannabis/weed to be clear) produce milk with measurable levels of delta-9 THC, the compound we all love and simply high of becomes. The test cows also showed behavioral changes, indicating that they are feeling the effects of the cannabinoids (also) contained in hemp.
Important research on cows and their milk
“This is important as we had no data on the extent to which cannabinoids enter the milk of dairy cows,” Michael Kleinhenz, who was not involved in the study, told the website. NewScientist. Kleinhenz is an assistant professor of beef production medicine Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Researchers from The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment 10 lactating dairy cows fed varying amounts of hemp feed containing a wide range of cannabinoid concentrations. The cows were then studied for weeks; the researchers collected data on their behavior and performed laboratory analyzes of the hemp cows’ blood, milk and feces.
Buds, seeds and leaves of hemp and THC
Now the effects on the dairy cows are different depending on what kind of hemp feed you give the cow. For example, cows fed a fermented food made from the whole hemp plant showed little difference from cows fed a traditional diet of corn.
The cows fed food made from cannabinoid-rich hemp leaves, buds and seeds showed noticeable behavioral changes. In addition, the milk from these cows showed detectable levels of several cannabinoids, including our favorite delta-9-THC. According to the Germans’ calculations, these cows consumed up to 86 times the amount of THC needed to get people high!
Behavioral changes in stoned cows
The dairy cows in the study also felt the effects of their hemp feed. The researchers observed, for example, a lower heart rate and breathing, noticeable tongue movements, more yawning and more production of saliva and nasal secretions, as well as the familiar red eyes. Some of the animals “exhibited a cautious and occasionally unsteady gait, unusually long standing still and abnormal body posture,” the researchers write.
According to Robert Pieper, head of the food chain safety department at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and co-author of the study, the hemp-fed cows also ate less and produced less milk. “It has a strong effect on animal health. Not a positive effect.’
Hemp causes less stress and inflammation in livestock
But the previously mentioned American scientist Kleinhenz from Kansas State University has himself studied bulls fed hemp, and he says that the animals tended to calm down.
“We don’t know if they do high have or not,” says Kleinhenz. But he adds that the cattle had lower levels of stress hormones. He is convinced that the cannabinoids in the feed reduce stress, but “we still need to find out how that mechanism works in animals.”
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Maybe not in cows, but hemp as animal feed certainly has potential
On the page for the American cannabis magazine High Times says Jeffrey Steiner, director of Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, that he experimented with hemp as a dietary supplement for dairy cows, sheep and poultry. it has only been researched since 2019, and it will be years before the authorities approve hemp pet food, he expects. “You have to wait a long time before you see CBD milk on the shelves.”
Colleague Serkan Ates from the University of Oregon has studied hemp consumption in cows, lambs and chickens. He is skeptical about feeding hemp – or rather the cannabinoids in it – to dairy cows. ‘But there is plenty of low-hanging fruit to explore, such as feeding hemp to non-food-producing animals such as heifers and lambs.’
By National Hemp Association director Erica Stark is also convinced of a bright future for hemp as soon as the authorities dare to take the leap. “It will be such a big market. There is actually already a shortage of animal feed in this country at the moment, consequences of what is happening in Ukraine, drought and failed harvests.’
[openingsfoto: Krivosheev Vitaly/Shutterstock]