As high prices of feed have lead many farmers across the country to look for cheaper feed sources. One farmer has resorted to adding cannabis to their pig feed, in an experiment to turn weed waste into an alternative source, with surprising results.
As the American state of Washington gets ready to introduce a legal market for recreational-use marijuana, one of the surprise consequences could be better pork on people’s plates.
The initial results looked promising after four pigs fed on the weed waste in their last four months, before heading for the abattoir were 9-13 kilos heavier than six other pigs given their usual food when sent to the slaughterhouse. “They were eating more, as you can imagine,” says Susannah Gross.
Giving farm animals the munchies is the latest outcome of a ballot measure passed by Washington voters in November making their state one of the first to legalise the recreational use of marijuana. There are about 20 states with medical marijuana laws already on their books.
The results beg the question of whether pot-fed pork contains any measurable traces of THC, the mind-altering chemical ingredient in cannabis. It's not clear whether the pigs feel anything from the weed in their feed, or how much, if any, THC — the psychoactive substance that gets humans high — ends up in the meat.
High feed prices have led farmers elsewhere to seek out food scraps and even bakery byproduct — bread, dough, pastries and cereal — for their pigs and cattle. Scientists at the European Union Food Safety Authority the safety of using hemp, a plant that's a close relative of marijuana, in feed for dairy cows. When the cows were fed hemp plants, enough THC made its way into their milk that the scientists recommended prohibiting its use. (However, feeding the cows hemp seeds was just fine, they found).