Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hempseed Animal Food Nutritional attributes 

In countries where hemp is grown, the seeds are used for cattle and poultry as a concentrated energy feed. However, the very low digestibility of the fibre component of the oil cake limits its use, especially in pig and poultry feeds (Göhl, 1982).

......Varieties grown for fibre and oil have much lower levels of THC (less than 0.2%) than varieties grown for drug production (Kahn, 2005ITC, 2010).

No pathological side effects have been reported for the by-products of industrial hemp...

Ruminant Feed 

The (seed) oil cake has been used for fattening cattle (6 pounds 9.2 ounces) (up to 3 kg per day) and adult sheep (0.5 kg per day) (Göhl, 1982). 

It is an excellent natural source of rumen-undegradable protein that is equivalent to heat-treated rapeseed meal. 

When substituted for rapeseed meal, hemp seed oil meal included at 20% of diet DM had no detrimental effects on feed intake or nutrient utilization by sheep (Mustafa et al., 1999).


Hemp seeds have a high energy content, and due their low cost, are a traditional staple of mixes for pet birds. 

Seed-eating migratory birds are attracted to hemp fields at harvest time, and, in many countries, the seeds have been used as poultry feed (Khan et al., 2009).


Up to 20% dried and crushed hemp seeds have been used successfully in broiler diets and resulted in higher breast, leg and thigh weight. 

This positive effect has been linked to the combination of a good protein and lipid quality associated to other beneficial properties, such as the lack of trypsin inhibitors and the antioxydant activity of cannabidiol (Khan et al., 2009). 

Feeding broilers with hemp seed powder (at 20%) resulted in better feed conversion ratio, higher live-weight gain and lower age at slaughter, and lower mortality rate (Khan et al., 2010)

It is possible to partly replace soybean meal by hemp seed meal in broiler diets. Supplementation of hemp seed meal at 1.5-9.0% had no adverse effects on immunological factors. Levels of 1.5-3% might promote B cell differentiation and maturation as well as immunity. Levels of 4.5-7.0% enhanced nitrogen utilization (Ma Li et al., 2007).

Laying hens

With hens fed on 0 to 20% of cold-pressed hemp seed meal, no significant differences were found between feed treatments for egg production, feed consumption, feed efficiency, body weight change or egg quality. 

Increasing dietary inclusion of hemp seed meal produced eggs with lower concentrations of palmitic acid and higher concentrations of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids (Silversides et al., 2005).


Feeding rabbits with hemp oil cake is possible but it has a moderate energy value for rabbits, due to its high fibre content that reduces diet digestibility. It does not have significant organoleptic effects on fresh rabbit meat (Lebas et al., 1988).


AFZ, 2011Block et al., 1945Silversides et al., 2005Woodman, 1945

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:30


Block, R. J. ; Bolling, D., 1945. Amino acid composition of proteins and foods. Springfield, Ill., Thomas

Boutin, M. P. ; Flamin, C. ; Quinton, S. ; Gosse, G., 2005. Etude des caracteristiques environnementales du chanvre par l’analyse de son cycle de vie. Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche

Ecocrop, 2010. Ecocrop database. FAO

Ecoport, 2010. Ecoport database. Ecoport

eFloras, 2010. eFloras, a collection of on-line floras from around the world. Harvard University

Göhl, B., 1982. Les aliments du bétail sous les tropiques. FAO, Division de Production et Santé Animale, Roma, Italy

Hillig, K. W. ; Mahlberg, P. G., 2004. A chemotaxonomic analysis of cannabinoid variation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae). Am. J. Bot., 91: 966-975

ITC, 2010. Institut Technique du Chanvre. Institut Technique du Chanvre

Jain, M. C. ; Arora, N., 1988. Ganja (Cannabis sativa) refuse as cattle feed. Indian J. Anim. Sci., 58 (7): 865-867

Johnston, N. P. ; Berrio, L. F., 1985. Comparative effects of cottonseed, soyabeans, safflower seeds and flax seeds on the performance of rabbits and guinea pigs. J. Appl. Rabbit Res., 8 (2): 64-67

Kahn, C. M., 2005. The Merck Veterinary Manual. Merck, 9th edition

Khan, R. U. ; Fazil-e-Raziq Durrani; Niela Chand; Haseeb Anwar; Shabana Naz; Farooqi, F. A. ; Manzoor, M. N., 2009. Effect of Cannabis sativa fortified feed on muscle growth and visceral organs in broiler chicks. Int. J. Biol. Biotech., 6 (3): 179-182

Khan, R.U. ; Durrani, F.R. ; Chand, N. ; Anwar, H., 2010. Influence of feed supplementation withCannabis sativa on quality of broilers carcass. Pakistan Vet. J., 30 (1): 34-38

Lebas, F. ; Ouhayoun, J. ; Delmas, D., 1988. Effects of hempseed oil cake introduction in rabbit feeding on growth performance and carcass quality. Proceeding of the 4th World Rabbit Congress, Budapest, Hungary, 3, pp. 254–259

Ma Li; Guo RongFu, 2007. Immune effects of hemp seed meal in Tegel broilers. J. Yunnan Agric. Univ., 22 (1): 82-85, 126

Mustafa, A. F. ; McKinnon, J. J. ; Christensen, D. A., 1999. The nutritive value of hemp meal for ruminants. Can. J. Anim. Sci., 79 (1): 91-95

Silversides, F. G. ; Lefrancois, M. R., 2005. The effect of feeding hemp seed meal to laying hens. Br. Poult. Sci., 46 (2): 231-235

Woodman, H. E., 1945. The composition and nutritive value of feeding stuffs. United Kingdom. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Bulletin No. 124

18 references found

Datasheet citation 

Tran G., 2015. Hemp (Cannabis sativa). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.http://www.feedipedia.org/node/50 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:32

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)

Image credits 

 Jorge Barrios   Rotational   Emmanuelle Bourgeat, AgroParisTech   Emmanuelle Bourgeat, AgroParisTech   Emmanuelle Bourgeat, AgroParisTech   D-Kuru

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