Farm that feeds chickens marijuana instead of antibiotics fetches higher prices from consumers seeking organic poultry, researchers say

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A worker prepares chicken meat at Khlong Toei market in Bangkok.Adisorn Chabsungnoen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

  • A farm in Thailand has started feeding its chickens cannabis instead of antibiotics.

  • Researchers from Chiang Mai University say the experiment is showing positive signs.

  • The chickens fetch double the usual price from consumers looking for organic poultry.

A medical marijuana farm in northern Thailand is feeding its free-range chickens cannabis instead of antibiotics, and researchers said the experiment had shown promising results.

Researchers from the Department of Animal and Aquatic Sciences at Chiang Mai University said less than 10% of the 1,000 chickens at the Lampang farm have died since they introduced pot in the chicken feed in January 2021.

While the results of the study are still under review and only cover one year of research, Chompunut Lumsangkul, an assistant professor who led the study, told Insider that the cannabis diet appears to be working. . The mortality rate for chickens on the farm has been the same as during regular seasons when there is no serious outbreak of deadly bird disease, she said.

The birds’ special food is produced by adding ground cannabis to their food and water, Lumsangkul said. No antibiotics or medications are given or used on the chickens during this time.

Along with healthy chickens, the experience has also allowed the farm to sell its poultry at higher prices to consumers looking for organic poultry.

The birds fetch double the normal price, at around $1.50 a pound, mainly because buyers want organic chickens that haven’t been given antibiotics, Lumsangkul said. She also claimed that the meat from the chickens – which they call “GanjaChicken” – is more tender and tastes better than regular chickens.

“Thai consumers have paid attention to this because the demand for chickens is increasing and many farmers have to use antibiotics, so some customers want to find a safer product,” the assistant professor said.

The Lampang farm mainly grows cannabis as one of its main products, but also raises chickens.

The Lampang farm mainly grows cannabis as one of its main products, but also raises chickens.CHOMPUNUT LUMSANGKUL

As part of the experiment, Lumsangkul said his research team sometimes gave chickens boosted levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the substance in marijuana that gives users a high — that exceeded legal limits for humans. in Thailand.

Earlier this month, the Thai government legalized the sale of cannabis products but limited the amount of THC in items one can consume to 0.2%. By comparison, chickens on the farm sometimes got as much as 0.4%, Chompunut said.

“I can’t say cannabis doesn’t leave chickens high, but they exhibit normal behavior,” she said.

A few dozen black chickens are seen in a farmer's hut.

The farm has had over 1,000 cannabis-fed chickens since January last year.CHOMPUNUT LUMSANGKUL

Lumsangkul noted that it’s not immediately clear what all the benefits of feeding chickens cannabis are, or why cannabis keeps birds healthy in the first place. However, she said it is likely that marijuana contains bioactive compounds or substances that promote metabolic activity and better health conditions, which strengthen the immune system of birds.

The study has only been a “screening test” so far and researchers have yet to test whether the cannabis feed protects chickens against bird flu or other serious illnesses, said Lumsangkul.

As to whether people can get high from eating cannabis-fed chickens, Lumsangkul said there’s “no way” that’s happening. THC is fully metabolized in the chicken’s body before slaughter, so its shape is completely changed by the time it reaches the table, she said.

Read the original Insider article

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