Research into Potential of Hemp Seed in Poultry Diets

CANADA - Researchers with the University of Manitoba plan to examine the safety and effectiveness of hemp seed as a potential feed ingredient in poultry diets, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 16 October 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Although hemp seed is widely used in human nutrition, hemp-based products are not approved for use in any class of livestock diet.

Researchers with the University of Manitoba are about to launch a three-year study to generate data to support registration of hemp seed as a feed ingredient in poultry diets.

Dr Jim House, the head of the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, notes the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires evidence to show the product is safe and effective.

Dr Jim House – University of Manitoba

Right now we're looking at three different classes of hemp products, the hemp seed, the hemp oil and the hemp meal or the protein concentrate.

We're looking at doing production trials in both laying hens and in broiler chickens and generating data on performance, on any issues related to health indices and we're also going to be collecting data on the quality of the eggs and on the meats of the broiler chickens.

Once we've got all that data we'll be able to generate significant evidence in support of the use of hemp in livestock diets, in particular poultry diets at this stage.

Another unique aspect that we're going to be looking at is because hemp is a nice oil in terms of its fatty acid composition, it has a significant amount of omega-3, in particular the alpha-linolenic acid, we're looking to see whether of not the use of hemp seed or hemp oil will allow us to make claims relative to omega-3 content within either boiler meat or in eggs.

This carries over from some studies that we're also doing looking at omega-3 enrichment in poultry products.

Dr House notes researchers will also be conducting sensory studies to assess the reaction of consumers to the eggs and to the meat from the chickens that consume the hemp products.

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