More Dutch cows eat hemp

The number of Dutch dairy farmers that feed their cows hemp fiber is on the rise this year after mostly positive experiences of farmers in the Netherlands.

In the north of the Netherlands nobody is surprised of vast fields of hemp plants (totaling an estimated 2000 hectares). Growers use hemp as the fiber for the production of textiles. In Brabant people are surprised sometimes, as the hemp plants are often mistaken for its cousin, cannabis.

Hemp is an alternative to straw and in addition to the bulk grass or corn that the cows eat. The fiber supplement is required for the contraction of the rumen to stimulate and improve digestion.

Cows that eat hemp give a little more milk and are especially healthy. The downside is that cows don’t seem to like the taste of hemp very much.

In the longer term, life expectancy and therefore increase efficiency. Moreover, the cultivation of hemp fiber is cheap, simple and durable.

Cows cannot get intoxicated from their new diet, as the plants contain a maximum of 0,2% THC. “One would have to smoke 8 hectares of hemp in order to get high’’, says a spokesman of Agrifirm.

In 2005, several European countries banned farmers from feeding their cattle hemp, as it was feared that traces of THC could be passed on to dairy products. There was no evidence that this was actually the case.