In a push to ween their chickens off antibiotics, farmers in Thailand have started feeding their poultry cannabis.
The pot-poultry project was recently carried out by a farming community near the northern Thai city of Lampang alongside scientists from Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Agriculture, as first reported by The Nation Thailand.
The farmers said they put their chickens on this novel diet after the flock was ravaged by avian bronchitis despite all of the birds being injected with antibiotics. The farm also held a license to grow medicinal cannabis, so they were curious to see whether the birds would benefit from consuming some of their surplus stock.
According to the Guardian, the experiment involved over 1,000 chickens who were given varying doses of cannabis through an array of different means, such as directly munching on the leaves or drinking water steeped in cannabis. Researchers kept a close eye on the flock, observing whether the cannabis had any effect on their growth, health, and the quality of their meat and eggs.
While the team is yet to publish any hard data on the experiment, they claim the project has proven successful with the cannabis-dosed chickens appearing to suffer fewer cases of avian bronchitis.
It also looks like the diet didn’t impact the birds' behavior and their meat quality was unchanged. Locals have already cooked up some of the poultry, serving it in a chicken rice dish – and there are apparently no complaints yet.
Following the success of the trial, the farmers eventually hope to completely ditch antibiotics and purely rely on cannabis to treat their chicken flocks.
Thailand has recently loosened its laws against cannabis. Earlier this month, it became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis, although there are still tough penalties for people who use the drug recreationally.
The law change will allow people in Thailand to grow and sell marijuana, as well as use parts of the plant for medicinal purposes, according to CNN. Smoking joints is off the menu, but people will be able to sell certain cannabis-infused food and drinks, provided the products contain less than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chief psychoactive compound found in the plant.
Across the Pacific in the US, a recent trial by the Kansas State University saw scientists feed cattle hemp with high levels of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Perhaps by no surprise, the cows that were fed the cannabinoid-tainted diet appeared to become more chilled out, with the researchers reporting lower levels of biomarkers that indicate stress and inflammation.