From Equine Science Update:
As feed expenses escalate in the horse industry and hemp becomes more accessible,
researchers are examining hemp as a potential substitute for horse feed.
A recent American study examined the palatability and acceptability of hempseed meal pellets, comparing them to other commonly used horse feed options.
Ryon W. Springer and co-workers conducted the research at the Tarleton State University Equine Center, Stephenville, Texas. A full report is published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
During an initial experiment, horses were provided with soybean meal pellets (SBM), rice bran pellets (RBP), or beet pulp pellets (BPP) in one bucket (500 g) and hempseed meal (HSM) in a second bucket (500 g) twice daily for three days. The feeding regimen involved rotating the treatments so that each group of horses received every type of feed during the trial. Horses had a 10-minute window for eating during each feeding session.
Horses consumed significantly more hempseed meal pellets compared to soybean meal pellets and beet pulp pellets. The quantities of HSM and RBP consumed were similar. A gradual increase in hempseed meal consumption was observed as the study progressed.
In a subsequent experiment, six geldings were presented with 1 kg of hempseed meal pellets over two 5-minute intervals, separated by 1 hour each day. Coastal Bermudagrass hay (1kg) was provided between these offerings. The results revealed that horses exhibited increased consumption of hempseed meal pellets on days 5 and 6 in contrast to days 1 to 3.
Notably, the consumption of HSM pellets did not show any correlation with hay intake.
The researchers conclude that HSM may be similar in palatability to RBP and more palatable than SBM and BPP. Consumption of HSM increases over time but is not impacted by hay consumption. They suggest that hempseed meal may serve as an acceptable replacement to more common feedstuffs in equine rations.
For more details, see:
Ryon W. Springer, A. Cheyenne Mason, Teighlor D. Cross, Kimberly A. Guay, Randel H. Raub, Kimberly B. Wellmann, Trinette N. Jones,
Assessment of the Palatability and Acceptability of Hempseed Meal Pellets in Horses Compared to Mainstream Feedstuffs,
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, (2023) vol 131, 104929,