1915: Hempseed, the Original Animal Feed

USDA is demanding studies before admitting the obvious: Hempseed is the original animal feed. Ironic.

In 1915 Hempseed was one of the grains used to develop modern animal feeds, and the idea of combining proteins to increase quality. Here are more Hemp citations found in academic literature that I commissioned in 1999 for my book The HempNut Health and Cookbook. The source was an agriculture database which is not online, with perhaps a million references. All were originally sourced by hand from libraries around the world for at least the past 45 years by William Shurtleff of the Soyfoods Center.


Georgeson, C.C. 1891. What does science teach us in stock feeding? Kansas State Board of Agriculture, Quarterly Report 20:97 108. For the quarter ending March 31, 1891. Summary: Contents: Introduction. Nature of the animal body. Nature of the food materials. Feeding standards (tables compiled by German experimenters). Analyses of feeding stuffs. How to compound a ration. Daily ration for ox weighing 1,200 pounds. What is gained by it? Discussion (p. 105 08; high praise for this paper).

“The most important point in a feed is its quality; or, in other words, the absolute and relative amounts of the nutrient elements which it contains. These nutrients are, 1st, protein (or albuminoids), the substance which contains nitrogen. The amount of protein differs greatly in different materials, as may be seen by a reference to the table of analysis of feed stuffs. Protein has its typical representation in the white of eggs. It is the only substance from which flesh can be formed in the body. Rapid growth and development of muscle cannot go on when the feed is deficient in protein. It is the most important and indispensable element in all feed. I say indispensable, because an animal would starve to death on a food that contains no protein, as, for instance, starch and sugar.

“2d. The nutrient next in importance is the carbohydrates, also called the ‘nitrogen free extract.’ This class of nutrients consists chiefly of starch, sugar, woody fiber, and gum. In ordinary feeds they are present in relative abundance. They contain no nitrogen.

“3d. The fat in the feed is the third nutrient. It is essentially of the same character as the fat of the body, and is present only in small quantities except in such feeds as cotton seed, flax seed, and other seeds rich in oil. These are the nutrients. Now, other things being equal, that feed stuff is of the best quality which is richest in digestible albuminoids. “

A table, titled “Feeding standards: Per day and per 1,000 lbs. live weight” (p. 100) gives values for many different kinds of livestocks at various ages or periods of growth. There are columns for: Total organic substance (lbs), nutritive (digestible) substances: Protein (albuminoids), carbohydrates, fats, total nutritive substance (lbs), and Nutritive ratio (lbs).

“The ‘nutritive ratio’ is the ratio of digestible protein to the sum of digestible carbohydrates and fat. To calculate this ratio, the amount of fat is multiplied by 2.5 and the product added to the carbohydrates, when the sum of the two is divided by the albuminoids; the latter are thus always represented by 1. The fat is multiplied by 2.5 because it has been found that one pound of fat produces as much heat as two and a half pounds of starch.”

Another table titled “Analyses of feeding stuffs” (p. 101) groups these into five different categories: Hay and straw, green fodders (including “Soy bean, entire crop”), grain and seeds (incl. hemp seed), roots and tubers, and by products (incl. oilmeal (old or new process, and gluten meal). Address: Prof., State Agricultural College.

Osborne, Thomas B.; Mendel, Lafayette B. 1915. The comparative nutritive value of certain proteins in growth, and the problem of the protein minimum. J. of Biological Chemistry 20:351 78. [24 ref]. Summary: In earlier publications, the authors have pointed out “the dominant importance of certain amino acids in problems relating to the function of nitrogenous food intake in both maintenance and growth.” “The inequalities of different sources of protein in meeting the nutritive needs have been recognized in recent years by various investigators.” If protein intake is low, the “law of minimum” determines the amount of protein available for constructive functions. Adding cystine to certain foods, at once renders the ration decidedly more adequate for growth.

A table (p. 361) lists the major protein of animal origin and of vegetable origin, including glycinin from the soy bean. The authors compare the efficiency of these proteins for growth and maintenance. The problem of the “protein minimum” can be demonstrated by noting that “no amount of zein food, however large, will enable rats to maintain their nutritive equilibrium. A small addition of tryptophane will at once convert the inefficient food into a maintenance ration. ” Many growth line graphs (curves) for rats on diets containing various protein sources are shown. Also contains many tables showing results.

Edestin, the main protein in hemp seed, is used in numerous growth trials and discussed on pages 352, 355, 361, 367, 369, and 371 77.
Note 1. Edestin is a crystalline globulin that contains all the essential amino acids.
Note 2. The ideas in this paper later became the basis for the idea of protein complementarity and combining proteins to increase the quality of each one. Address: Yale Univ., Connecticut.

Nollau, E.H. 1915. The amino acid content of certain commercial feedingstuffs and other sources of protein. J. of Biological Chemistry 21(l):611 14. May. [2 ref]
Summary: “It is probably not too Utopian to expect that protein feeding in the future will be based rather on the amino acid makeup than on the results of past feeding experiments. “

“The relatively large amount of lysine present in the soy bean…. hemp seed, and sunflower seed is especially noteworthy… The high ammonia content and the low lysine content of gluten (wheat) and gluten flour is marked.

Table I shows the “Distribution of nitrogen in various protein substances.” Soy bean, the first of the 22 substances listed, contains (N Nitrogen): Ammonia N 12.97%. Melanin N 3.69. Cystine N 1. 52 %. Arginine N 15.52 Histidine N 2.60 %. Lysine N 7.02 Mono amino acid N (Amino N of filtrate) 48.76%. Proline, oxyproline, tryptophane, etc. (Non amino N of filtrate) 7.12%. Total 99.20%. Address: Chemical Lab., Kentucky Agric. Exp. Station, Lexington, Kentucky.

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