USDA Finds Cows Fed Hemp Cake Can Retain Safe Levels of THC and CBD

Published on: 

A recent USDA study revealed that when cows are fed hemp cake, they will maintain safe levels of both THC and CBD.

Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and North Dakota State University (NDSU) partnered together and performed a study where they found results showing that cows being fed hempseed cake, highly nutritious viable alternative feed source for cattle, will retain low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in their meat (1,2). Study organizers mentioned that the growing interest in hemp oil production has left farmers with a lot of byproduct that can be compressed into “cakes” and wanted to determine the safety of feeding these hemp cakes to livestock.

This USDA study was published in the journal, Food Additives and Contaminants, and focused on the cannabinoid concentration in the muscle, kidney, liver, and fat tissues of cattle fed hempseed cake. Their THC and CBD levels were checked throughout the different stages of metabolism.


“Scientists found that the concentrations of [cannabinoids] in meat products contributed only a small fraction of the total amount global regulatory organizations consider safe for consumers,” the department said in a recent press release (1,3).

The experiment showed that hempseed cake is “highly nutritious” and provides an option to serve as a “viable alternative feed source for cattle,” (1).

“According to our exposure assessment, it would be very difficult for a human to consume enough fat from cattle fed with hempseed cake to exceed regulatory guidelines for dietary THC exposure,” David Smith of USDA’s Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit said. “From a food safety view point, hempseed cake having low cannabinoid content can be a suitable source of crude protein and fiber in cattle feed while offering industrial hemp producers a potential market for this byproduct of hempseed oil extraction,” he added (1).

Last year, another federally funded study revealed how feeding cows hemp reduced their stress. In 2020, a team of researchers from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, studied how CBD affects stress and pain in horses (4).

Currently, hemp is not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an option to be a food source for animals.