Cannabis could help farmers cut antibiotic use

A study in Thailand suggests that medicinal cannabis mixed into chicken feed can help farmers cut down on antibiotic use.

The study, reported in the Guardian newspaper, was carried out on 1 000 chickens on an organic farm in Thailand.

The owner, licensed to produce medicinal cannabis, had an excess of the product and wondered whether it would benefit his chickens. So began a study led by Chompunut Lumsangkul, an assistant professor at a Thai university.

Chickens were given the plant in varying intensities and in different forms. Some were given water that had been boiled with cannabis leaves, while others ate feed mixed with crushed cannabis leaves.

The results, Chompunut says, are promising and suggest cannabis could help reduce farmers’ dependence on antibiotics. Cannabis-supplemented chickens tended to experience fewer cases of avian bronchitis, and the quality of the meat was judged to be superior.

No abnormal behaviour was observed, and the low doses left no traces of cannabinoids in the chicken meat or eggs. “At the level of intensity we gave them it wouldn’t get the chickens high,” the professor said.

A further study is planned using higher doses of medicinal cannabis.