Hemp seed and hemp seed products such as hemp seed cake (HSC) have been shown to increase unsaturated fatty acid (FA) profile in eggs, including linoleic acid, and α-linolenic fatty acids known to increase egg weight and better human health respectively. However, the use of hemp products in animal feed is still a concern due to the potential residues of the Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance present in the hemp plant. No significant published research is available on the effect of dietary HSC on fatty acids profile and cannabinoids residues in organs and tissues of laying hens. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of dietary HSC on the level of fatty acids composition, and cannabinoid transfer in eggs, as well as internal organs and tissues of laying hens. Eight hundred caged Bovans white hens in at 30 weeks of age were distributed into 4 treatments of 200 hens per treatment based on inclusion levels of hemp seed cake (HSC) at 0, 10, 20 and 30% levels of inclusion. Each treatment group comprised of 8 cages of 25 hens each that served as replicates. The observations per protocol were made over a timeline of 16 weeks following that precedes a 3-week acclimation phase. HSC feeding to commercial laying hens increased (P<0.05) the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids including linoleic and linolenic acids in eggs and abdominal fat. The cannabinoids residues in eggs, blood, breast meat, body fat, liver, kidneys and spleen were below the detectable level. The results of this study confirm that HSC fed to laying hens increased deposition of polyunsaturated fatty acids, but did not contribute THC or cannabinoid residues in eggs, internal organs or body tissues.
Key words: Hemp, hemp seed cake (HSC), eggs, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), fatty acids, cannabinoids
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