The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has provisionally endorsed hemp seed meal as feed for egg-laying chickens, marking a major advancement in the hemp sector. This preliminary endorsement, originating from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, is a cause for celebration for the Hemp Feed Coalition.
What are the Implications for Hemp in Agriculture?
Should AAFCO’s initial approval become permanent, it will categorize hemp seed meal as a suitable source of protein and fat for hens. The anticipated regulations stipulate a maximum of 20 ppm CBD and 2 ppm THC in the feed. The Hemp Feed Coalition, after more than three years of research, indicates that feed processors could incorporate up to 20% hemp seed meal in hen diets following these regulations.
Morgan Tweet, the Hemp Feed Coalition’s executive director, introduced a new definition: “Tentative Definition T71.5 Hemp Seed Meal, Mechanically Extracted,” which refers to the product derived from grinding the cake left after extracting most oil from Cannabis sativa L. seeds using mechanical processes. Once AAFCO’s board gives its approval, this definition could be officially adopted and announced later in the year, paving the way for hemp seed to be used in commercial hen feed.
Promising Outcomes from Hemp Seed Meal
Research shows that hens fed with hemp-enhanced diets produce higher quality eggs, leading the Hemp Feed Coalition to suggest that hemp seed meal could provide enhanced fatty acids and other essential nutrients for human health. Additionally, the broader adoption of hemp could improve soil quality, aid in disease management, and enhance agricultural productivity.
Revitalized Interest in Hemp Following Legalization
The 2018 Farm Bill’s legalization of hemp at the federal level has reignited interest in its use for nutrition, fiber, and even psychoactive cannabinoids. Despite the FDA’s concerns about marketing CBD products for animals due to insufficient data on safe residue levels for human consumption, recent studies endorse the shift towards hemp seed feed. In April of the previous year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the safety of human meat consumption from hemp-fed cattle, as they showed no detectable CBD residues.
A Milestone in Animal Feed?
If AAFCO’s preliminary approval is finalized this year, it will be a landmark moment. For the first time, hemp seed meal will be officially recognized as a valid source of protein and fat for egg-laying hens. This represents a significant step forward for hemp in agriculture, highlighting the potential for enhanced sustainability, improved animal welfare, and superior food quality through innovative farming practices.
As the hemp industry evolves, it opens new possibilities for farmers, processors, and consumers. The imminent approval of hemp seed meal as a nutritious feed option for egg-laying hens signals a bright future for sustainable agriculture that promises benefits for all.