Hemp for horses - McDowell's Herbal Treatments


  • Excellent digestible fibre (around 27% fibre) which is comparable to copra meal
  • Horses find it highly palatable and it is highly digestible in the hind-gut
  • A good source of cool energy with 2.5 times more utilisable energy than protein or carbohydrates
  • Does not need to be heated treated to be edible (unlike soy)
  • Free of phytoestrogens (unlike soy based feeds)
  • Is considered a super food that can ease joint pain and inflammation
  • The oils and protein contribute to improving skin and coat health and hoof condition
  • Unlike soy, nuts and other legumes, hemp does not contain trypsin (enzyme) inhibitors and oligosaccharides, which can cause stomach and gastric upsets


  • Research is showing that hemp improves joint function due to the properties of the omega fatty acids
  • Anecdotal evidence is showing benefits for laminitic cases, both helping to prevent and to treat hoof healing after an attack
  • Can be beneficial for Equine Cushing's Disease (PPID) and Insulin resistant horses
  • Shows promising results for improved bone and tendon healing as well as recovery from gastric ulcers


Hemp is not the same as marijuana. Hemp, unlike marijuana, contains a almost no amount of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound that gets you ‘high’. Marijuana does contain THC (0.3% or less). The sale of hemp seed foods was prohibited in Australia until November 2017, when amendments to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards legally permitted their retail sale.

In history, hemp has been used to make ropes and equipment for horses but only now are we seeing an increase in the use of hemp as a foodstuff (seed and oil) and bedding material for the equine industry.

Not a great deal of published scientific research has been done into the consumption of hemp by horses but more and more anecdotal evidence is being shared across the equine industry. Several US based organisations and companies are exploring the use of hemp-based feeds and supplements in the animal food industry, with the focus being on the safety and efficacy for livestock for human consumption and companion animals.


Hempseed oil is typically cold pressed and uses temperatures below 38ºC and does not need to be chemically extracted or refined, making hemp a more stable, and therefore a healthier, option.

Hemp seed oil provides not only Omega 3 and Omega 6, but also Omega 9. In addition to this, hemp also contains GLA: gamma linolenic acid. GLA is an omega-6 but unlike other omega 6, GLA ‘produces anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the body’ ie. hemp seeds are highly anti-inflammatory.

It’s highly palatable for horses and can be a cost effective way to add additional calories to your horses diet without making them ‘fizzy’ and without adding grains. It can assist in maintaining or increasing weight while at the same helping heal gut issues, improve muscle tone, coat and hoof health and improving joint and tendon mobility.


Hemp can be fed out in oil or powdered extract form, which is a more economical option for horses. Always consider the source and quality of the hemp as rancidity can be a problem, as with any seeds due to the oils.
As little as 50g a day (roughly 1 cup) can help to maintain condition, increase fibre levels and provide a cool energy.
For a horses in heavy work or needing additional energy supply (such as for weight gain or pregnant or lactating mares) up to 1kg of hemp seed meal can be added to their feed per day.


For at least the last 12,000 years hemp has been grown and processed for it’s fibres and food products.
There are over 7000 different products that can be made from hemp.
Hemp seeds have a rich nutrition profile including protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins (vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, zinc, B6, among others)
Hemp has one of the lowest levels of unsaturated fats and highest level of polyunsaturated fats, compared to other vegetable oils
Hemp seeds are very high in protein; around 35%, and contain all of the required amino acids
Hemp seed oil provides not only omega-3 and omega-6, but also omega-9 in the most efficient form of any plant oil

Research and written by Leah Moulden

Link to Hemp Q and A

Kentucky Equine Research

Use of Hemp Oil and Hemp Ingredients in Equine Diets

Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies
University of Edinburgh

By: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, Ph.D

Our Hemp seed oil contains CBD and THC within the legal limit in Australia which is:
The total cannabidiol (CBD) content of the hemp seed oil is 0.0075% (75mg/kg) or less, and
The total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the oil is 0.005% (50mg/kg) or less.
As I’m sure you already understand Hemp oil and Medical cannabis oil with high THC are 2 different products.
Cannabis oil is a restricted product in Australia requiring a licensed doctor’s prescription.

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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