Hemp seed evaluated as potential swine feed

Hemp cakes are being tested as an ingredient in organic feed for pigs. In short, the testing concludes that the hemp fed pigs are alive and well.

There are a number of reasons for feeding hemp to swine. There is a high level of methionine corresponding to soya. Hemp is suitable for organic growing because of a minimal presence of pests and other illnesses. And it is a new crop in organic plant production compared to peas and rape. Moreover, parts of the stalk can be used in production of energy, fiber material or litter. The hemp plant gives a comfortable shade and could be used as shade arrangement in swine pens and contribute to good animal welfare.

However, there are challenges with hemp, e.g. time of maturity under Danish growing conditions. Some hemp seed tend to fall off. There are different sorts depending on the output being fiber or seed. Hemp oil used as health food is in competition with other products because of a fast development of rancid oil.

Testing design
The testing feed used in the project contains 5 % organic Danish-grown hemp cakes. An analysis of the hemp cakes (1 kg each) showed the following content: 27.4 % raw protein, 9.2 grams of lysine, 5.8 grams of methionine. The testing feed’s amino-acid content matches the control feed.

July 19, 2010 when the testing period began, one control group of 25 pigs and one test group of 25 pigs was put into two pigpens. Starting weight was 39 kg. The group was made up of app. 50 % females and 50 % castrates.

Hemp seed cake improves growth in pigs.

The story up till now
August 27, 2010 all pigs were control weighed. The result was:

Table 1. Growth in the first 38 days of the test period



Control group

Test group

Average weight, kg



Average daily growth, grams



Apart from the data mentioned above, we have observed a more solid manure from the test group (the hemp fed pigs) than from the control group. We regard this positive as it contributes to a more dry pigpen environment. We have not registered a difference in the eating abilities between the two groups.

Project conclusion
Slaughter weight is expected to be reached primo October 2010. At slaughtering the two groups’ percentage of meat is registered. The final test results will be presented at the Eco Amino Conference on November 4, 2010 at Koldkærgaard Conferencecentre in Aarhus, Denmark.