Hempseed-derived feed for horses, chickens approved in Texas

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Texas agriculture officials have approved hempseed-derived feed for chickens and horses, and authorized the state feed agency to set regulations for such products.

The Texas Commercial Feed Control Act assigned the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service to establish rules for the use of hemp and hemp products in commercial feed in the forms of hempseed meal and hempseed oil.

The Control Service has defined the two hempseed derivatives as ingredients in feed for all life cycles and categories of horses and chickens in the state.

Restricting the market

Though hemp was legalized for growing and declared an agricultural commodity by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the lack of specific approval for animal feed has held back hemp grain markets, stakeholders say.

The Texas Hemp Growers Association submitted a risk assessment to the Control Service in 2022 that started the ingredient review and approval process. The risk assessment was based on research into hempseed products conducted at Tarleton State University.

As hemp-containing products or animals have proliferated, the U.S. feed industry, feed regulators and animal health officials have pushed for more research to develop uniform rules.

Health concerns

A number of organizations led by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), co-authored a joint open letter last year warning against hemp in animal feeds and pet food, saying such unproven products represent threats to the human food chain. AAFCO said it is too soon to know whether hemp is safe for farm and ranch animals, and pets.

The U.S. Hemp Feed Coalition (HFC) has pushed back, suggesting AAFCO’s warning paints the industry with an overly broad brush, conflates hemp grain with cannabinoids, and sets back years of progress in the hemp industry.

Benefits demonstrated

HFC has led efforts to clear hemp seed meal for laying hens. Such byproduct is left over after the pressing of seed for hemp oil. The coalition submitted an application seeking approval of the material to the Food & Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM ) three years ago based on research that demonstrated that the eggs of laying hens analyzed showed multiple nutritional benefits, were safe, and contained no THC or other cannabinoids.

Separately, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has also said a lack of research means curative claims made regarding the use of CBD in animals are unproven. The agency has warned against animal owners supplanting veterinary care by administering the compound, which is derived from hemp flowers.

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