The trick to feeding sheep grass and not making them dumb | Queensland Country Life


Scientists are trying to find a cannabis plant that doesn’t get sheep high.

Or at least make sure that the consumption of their flesh does not transmit these famous traits if they have grazed it.

Already trials in Western Australia and New South Wales have shown that industrial hemp has shown promise as a summer crop for livestock like sheep and cattle.

Scientists gave cannabis from Washington state to a test herd of 15 merinos in New South Wales to find out how much of the psychoactive compound that induces euphoria is found in their meat.

Trials in most states and territories over the past few years have shown that cannabis grows well in Australian conditions, which has led to the founding of the medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp industries.

Now, it is believed that the remains of the harvested crops will be practical feed for livestock.

The trick is to make sure that the culture does not contain any more tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which produces the illicit chemical response.

THC is still considered a contaminant in animal products supplied, unless food regulators establish a safe permitted level.

Due to a lack of data, no maximum level has yet been set, which means that the current maximum acceptable level of THC in food from animals is zero.

Researchers believe that hemp in temperate mixed farming systems can provide green feed to ruminants in late spring / early summer.

This can provide valuable green food at the critical time of accession and for the growth and survival of weaners.

Alternatively, the stubble can be grazed after harvesting the seeds / fibers.

The pilot project “Opening the Doors for Hemp Grazed Cattle in Australia” was led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and funded by AgriFutures Australia, in collaboration with the ChemCentre and Charles Sturt University.

The results of the first phase of the project sparked new research to explore the nutritional value and ways to meet market regulations for possible forage crops.

Livestock grazing on hemp crops could result in the accumulation of THC from the hemp plant in the animal’s tissues and detectable levels could be transferred to meat, milk or other animal products.

FURTHER READING: Comment on Fake Meat Labels.

DPIRD project leader Bronwyn Blake said pilot experiments on merinos showed there were no adverse effects on feed consumption or animal performance from consuming hemp stubble .

On the contrary, Dr Blake said the results suggested that production gains could be achieved from industrial hemp fed by sheep.

“The 15 sheep in the home study in New South Wales were fed hemp pellets made in WA from the industrial hemp variety Morpeth Late, which was selected based on its slightly THC content. higher to push the settings, ”Ms. Blake said.

“Sheep were fed three diets and five reps per treatment and measured for digestibility, performance and carcass characteristics over a 56 day period.

“The experiment showed that the digestibility of dry and organic matter was higher for the two hemp-based diets compared to the control, although it is not known why.

The NSW sheep were fed WA hemp.

“The most important result was the increase in minor volatile fatty acids, suggesting an improvement in energy availability and a change in the composition of the gut microbial population, which may explain the improvement in digestibility.”

While THC was detected in all tissues measured at extremely low levels, which would not meet regulatory requirements, Ms Blake said the results were still encouraging.

“The results suggest that there are many opportunities to develop management practices for feeding hemp biomass to ruminants, such as sheep, goats and cattle, which can meet regulatory requirements for zero THC levels. in animal products, ”she said.

The project moved into phase two to investigate market access routes for cattle-fed hemp, including THC removal rates.

Scientists from the WA Department say they “are currently unaware” of any suitable research on how to feed food-producing animals with hemp containing THC in a way that avoids the transfer of THC into them. animal products.

Ms Blake said she was excited about the next phase of the project, which could generate opportunities to use the entire hemp plant as a forage feed option for livestock.

“Phase two will provide valuable information on the half-life or degradation of THC in sheep and cattle and the time it takes for THC to be cleared from various tissues in animals fed industrial hemp,” she declared.

“Ultimately, this research will provide the basis from which an industry code of practice could be developed for feeding ruminants hemp fodder and creating an opportunity for this useful and diverse crop to be incorporated into the entire farm. “

– with Farm Weekly, WA.

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