Could layer hens in the U.S. soon be tucking into a diet of hempseed meal and cake? They will be if a submission to have hemp approved as a feed ingredient in the country is successful.

Interest in hemp has grown among consumers and producers over recent years, so little surprise that it could soon be cropping up in the feed industry.

The number of new products aimed at human consumption has increased consistently since 2012, with 654 new products -  from snacks to skincare - being launched in 2018 alone, reports Mintel. The U.S. is the key market for hemp products and is where more than a quarter of new products were launched over the period.

Hopefully adding to that list, the Hemp Feed Coalition (HFC) has announced its first submission for hemp to become an approved animal feed ingredient. The application will be considered by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Association Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Friendly approach

The submission is the fruit of a two-year long effort comprising an ingredient investigation of hemp seedcake and meal and a clinical trial to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of hemp for laying hens.

Hunter Buffington, executive director of the HFC commenting on the submission noted: “The first one is always the hardest; and it was definitely a group effort to submit the first ever application in the U.S. for hemp as an official feed ingredient.”

The industry shared Certificates of Analysis from across the U.S. to demonstrate hempseed cake and meal can be consistently grown and processed. This effort was combined with expertise from hemp and feed industry leaders, along with research and support.

Now that the first application has been submitted, the FHC will turn its focus to research into other hemp byproducts, including oil, sediment, hulls pulp and screenings to investigate their potential use in the feed industry.

Hemp, as a feed ingredient, has been under the microscope for a number of years and various products are already available in the pet industry. Will hemp contribute to making hens happy? We will have to wait and see.