Effect of feeding hemp seed and hemp seed oil on laying hen performance and egg yolk fatty acid content: evidence of their safety and efficacy for laying hen diets

Poult Sci. 2012 Mar;91(3):701-11. doi: 10.3382/ps.2011-01825.


Forty-eight 19-wk-old Bovan White laying hens were fed 1 of 5 diets containing either hemp seed (HS) or hemp seed oil (HO). The level of HO was 4, 8, or 12%, whereas the level was 10 or 20% for the HS. A set of 8 birds fed wheat-, barley-, and corn oil-based diets served as the control. Performance was monitored over 12 wk. Average hen-day egg production was not affected upon feeding of either HS or HO diets. Egg weight was higher than that of the controls for hens consuming the 20% HS diet (P < 0.05). Feed intake was lower than that of the controls for birds consuming the 4% HO diet but similar across other treatments. Final BW were not affected by diet, with the exception of being lower than that of the controls (P < 0.05) in hens consuming the 12% HO diet. The total egg yolk n-3 fatty acid content increased linearly (P < 0.05) with increasing dietary α-linolenic acid provision with the HS- or HO-based diets. A quadratic response (P < 0.05) was observed for docosahexaenoic acid levels in egg yolk in response to increasing dietary α-linolenic acid supply. The expression of hepatic fatty acid desaturase 1 and 2, key genes for the desaturation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, was significantly decreased (50-60% of controls; P < 0.05) as a result of feeding HS or HO diets. Based on the results from the current study, the inclusion of the hemp products HS or HO in the diets of laying hens up to a maximum level of 20 and 12%, respectively, does not adversely effect the performance of laying hens and leads to the enrichment of the n-3 fatty acid content of eggs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabis*
  • Chickens / metabolism*
  • Egg Yolk / metabolism
  • Eggs / analysis*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / genetics
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Random Allocation
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Seeds*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Plant Oils
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases