Cannabis and Cows – Research Shows the Effects on Animals’ Mood

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Marijuana Insights, Tech and Science | 0 comments

Researchers from Kansas State University have conducted a groundbreaking study demonstrating that incorporating hemp into cows’ diets promotes relaxation and reduces stress. The study, published in Scientific Reports, revealed that feeding cows industrial hemp leads to increased lying behavior and decreased biomarkers of stress and inflammation in cattle. Hemp, a type of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, contains various non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBD and CBG. This research sheds light on the previously unknown effects of cannabis on domesticated ruminants, and it may have implications for the livestock industry. However, regulations prohibiting the feeding of hemp products to livestock remain in place due to the lack of studies on cannabinoid drug residues in meat and milk.

Cannabinoid-Free Milk or Cannabinoid-Enriched Milk?

The researchers at Kansas State University have secured a substantial $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the presence of cannabinoids in livestock that have been exposed to industrial hemp. This research aims to determine if cows fed a hemp-inclusive diet transmit cannabinoids in their milk or meat. If the study demonstrates that cannabinoids are not transferred to the milk or meat, it could open up opportunities for hemp to be used as a feedstock in global markets. On the other hand, if cows do pass along cannabinoids in their milk, it could potentially create a specialized niche market for cannabinoid-enriched milk. However, it is important to note that the chances of the FDA allowing the sale of such products would be minimal.

Learn more about milk and cannabis here!

Secondary Use For Hemp Leaves:

According to Michael Kleinhenz, co-author of the study and assistant professor of beef production medicine, industrial hemp is primarily cultivated for its oil, seed, fiber, and medicinal properties. However, after the main harvest, there are leftover byproducts such as leaves, fodder, and residual plant fibers. These byproducts have the potential to be utilized as animal feed. Since they primarily consist of cellulose-containing plant materials, ruminant animals, specifically cattle, are considered ideal for consuming these feeds. This secondary use of hemp leaves can provide additional value and sustainability to hemp cultivation.

Cannabinoids in Plasma:

In a previous study conducted by the Kansas State team and published in 2020, detectable levels of various cannabinoids, including CBDA, THCA, CBCA, and CBVA, were found in the plasma of cows that were fed a diet containing industrial hemp. However, this particular study did not analyze the cannabinoid levels in the milk of the cows. The presence of cannabinoids in the plasma does not necessarily exclude the use of hemp as a feedstock, as further research is required to understand the degradation and elimination of cannabinoids in cows.

The scientists acknowledged that this study serves as an initial step towards future investigations that aim to understand the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of cannabinoids in cattle. Further research is needed to determine the profiles of cannabinoid residues in edible tissues of cows.

In essence, more extensive studies involving a larger number of cows consuming hemp are necessary before more conclusive findings can be drawn regarding the presence and impact of cannabinoids in livestock.

Enrico Bratta

Enrico Bratta

Medical cannabis professional based in Phuket, Thailand.


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Enrico Bratta

Medical cannabis professional based in Phuket, Thailand.