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Study finds feeding industrial hemp to cattle reduces stress

A recent study by Kansas State University shows feeding industrial hemp to cattle can improve the animal’s welfare and reduce stress.

Michael Kleinhenz, an assistant professor of beef production medicine, says cattle were fed industrial hemp for 14 days. “We were able to detect that cattle who were fed industrial hemp have reduced stress biomarkers. So, cortisol is the big one, as well as decreased inflammation biomarkers so prostaglandin that we measured in cattle compared to the control calves who had higher cortisol,” he says. “They also had increase biomarkers of prostaglandin.”

He said cattle who were fed hemp tended to lay down more. “It was actually a complete opposite switch when we started feeding hemp. Before we started monitoring and our hemp-fed calves were laying down less. When we started feeding, they started laying down more throughout the day and had an increase throughout the whole duration of the study.”

Keinhenz says, if approved as a feed additive, industrial hemp could help in production practices. “The cattle that are going to be transported, cattle at weaning time or other stressful events in an animal’s life cycle that would be a good place to reduce stress, and hopefully by reducing stress decrease disease incidents following that stress.”

He says the study was founded by a grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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