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Research Article
 

Effect of Dietary Hemp Seed Cake on Systemic, Tissue and Organ Health of Commercial Laying Hens



Rajasekhar Kasula, Fausto Solis, Byron Shaffer, Frank Connett, Chris Barrett, Rodney Cocker and Eric Willinghan
 
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ABSTRACT

Background and Objective: Although the inclusion of Hemp Seed Cake (HSC) in animal diets has shown benefits in animal performance, egg quality and human health, its inclusion in animal feed is still prohibited due to the potential residues of the of Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance present in the hemp plant. Systemic and organ health are indicators of general health status of animals and any deviation from the expected parameters is an indication of the influence on health and safety of the nutrition provided to the animals, especially when a new ingredient is included in the ration. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of HSC on systemic, tissue, organ, gut health and bone mineralization in commercial layer hens. Materials and Methods: Eight hundred (800) Bovan caged hens in lay at 30 weeks of age were distributed in 4 treatments of 200 hens per treatment based on inclusion levels of HSC, 0, 10, 20 and 30%. Each treatment comprised of 8 cages of 25 hens each that served as replicates. The observations per protocol were made over a period of 16 weeks following a 3 week acclimation. Results: The results of the study showed that feeding increasing levels of HSC up to 30% to commercial laying hens did not affect systemic parameters such as blood pH, blood profile, total protein and the mineral profiles; similarly, there was not effect on tissues and organ health parameters. A significant trend of reduction in moisture excretion over the control with HSC feeding was noted. The bone mineralization parameters were not significantly affected by the supplementation of HSC. Conclusion: The results of this trial confirm that feeding HSC up to 30% does not adversely affect the physiology of laying hens.

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  How to cite this article:

Rajasekhar Kasula, Fausto Solis, Byron Shaffer, Frank Connett, Chris Barrett, Rodney Cocker and Eric Willinghan, 2021. Effect of Dietary Hemp Seed Cake on Systemic, Tissue and Organ Health of Commercial Laying Hens. International Journal of Poultry Science, 20: 1-12.

DOI: 10.3923/ijps.2021.1.12

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ijps.2021.1.12
 
Copyright: © 2021. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the creative commons attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

INTRODUCTION

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the family Cannabinaceae1, traditionally grown for fiber and seed production. Whole hemp seed contains approximately 25% crude protein, 33-35% oil and 34% carbohydrate, in addition to a broad range of vitamins and minerals2-4. Hemp seed oil contains 75 to 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), including 60% linoleic acid and 17-19% α-linolenic acid (ALA)5. The nutrient composition of hemp products provides evidence that these products may serve as potentially valuable livestock feed ingredients.

In the past, the cultivation of hemp was prohibited due to the high content of Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive substance present in the hemp plant. In the recent decades, regulatory changes undertaken by several countries across the globe allowed for the legal cultivation of industry hemp under a license that permits plants and plant parts of the genera Cannabis, the leaves and flowering heads of which do not contain more than 0.3% Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (wt/wt) and includes the derivatives of such plants and plant parts. The nutritional profile, in addition to the increase in production and availability of hemp and hemp products create opportunities to use them in livestock diets6. Significant research across the globe that has gone into evaluating the safety of the ingredient showed that including hemp in animal feed is safe and offers benefits for improved animal performance and human health6,7. Initial research indicates hemp products in layers, in addition to the protein contribution, also are valuable sources of linoleic acid which is important to improve egg weight5,8,9 and linolenic acid and omega fatty acids, which have proven to have beneficial effects on human health10-12 . Hemp products are also shown to be excellent sources of yolk pigmentation, lutein and fatty acid enrichment of eggs. Genetic improvements to limit Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol to less than 0.3% (w/w) in hemp leaves and flowering heads of the genera Cannabis, have made them safer as a feed ingredient.

The use of hemp seed cake (HSC) has not been approved in diets for any class of livestock in the USA due to a lack of adequate research in support of its safety and efficacy. The current study was designed to determine the feeding safety of HSC and its effects on systemic, tissue and organ health in commercial laying hens.

Objectives: The objectives of the study were to determine the effect of increasing levels of dietary HSC at 10, 20 and 30% on systemic, tissue and organ health, gut health and bone mineralization in commercial laying hens, as determined by:

Systemic health parameters such as blood pH, blood profile (total erythrocyte count (TEC), total leucocyte count (TLC), differential leucocyte count (DLC), packed cell volume (PCV), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), hemoglobin (Hb), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), total blood protein and serum mineral profile (Ca, P and Mg):

  • Tissue and organ health parameters such as gross patho-morphology and histo-pathology of gut mucosa, spleen, duodenum, pancreas, liver and kidneys
  • Gut health and environment as measured by manure quality (moisture, total nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen and mineral profile)
  • Bone mineralization, as measured by fresh weight, dry weight, moisture content, ash mass and tibia bone breaking strength

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Experimental design: The study was conducted at a commercial layer farm in Lancaster County, PA. A part of the commercial layer farm was ear marked for the study and hens were organized in treatments as below. Eight hundred (800) Bovan white caged hens in lay, 30 weeks of age, were distributed in 4 treatments of 200 hens per treatment based on inclusion levels of HSC, as follows: Control diet (C0)-regular diet with no HSC, (H10)-regular diet with 10% HSC, (H20)-regular diet with 20% HSC, (H30)-regular diet with 30% HSC. Each treatment was comprised of 8 cages of 25 hens each that served as replicates. The observations per protocol were made over a period of 16 weeks following a 3 week acclimation.

Acclimation of test animals: In order to eliminate the impact of the new ingredient and its differential inclusion levels, the hens under study were subjected to a period of acclimatization for 3 weeks when the respective treatments were fed with the study diets allowing for acclimatization of feed consumption and gut environment. Observations and data from the period of acclimation were not considered for the purpose of this study.

Environment and management: All the hens under study were subjected to the following environmental and management uniformly. Special feed troughs were designed to bypass the existing auto-feeders and the hens were fed manually once a day. An iso-caloric, iso-nitrogenous diet of nutrient levels at 25lb/100 hens/day consumption as per breed standard was designed across all treatments. Continuous water, identical environment and management were offered uniformly across treatments. Hens were weighed prior to start of study by cage and composition of hens per cage was managed for uniformity of body weight across treatments. Environmental conditions were maintained at 74-76°F house temperature, 40-60% humidity, 30 Lux lighting for 15-16 h of lighting per day and air movement between 2550 and 3400 m3 h1 per 1000 hens.

In order to establish uniformity of population across treatments, the cages were individually weighed for initial weights and, hens moved between cages so as to maintain a total body weight difference not exceeding 2.5%. These weight-adjusted cages were then randomized within the 32 cage locations with 2 cages of same treatment together. A plastic plate was installed between each cage thus preventing hens from picking feed from adjacent cage feeder.

Nutritional composition of HSC and finished feed: The analysis of nutritional composition of HSC and the study diets formulated with HSC are presented in Table 1 and the formulation of the feed is presented in Table 2.