The Free-Range Chickens' Diet That Takes Organic In A Higher Direction

Eating healthier has become more mainstream in the past few years, encouraging a new generation of consumers to opt for products that promote physical and mental wellness. Evolving eating habits and the pandemic have motivated many people to adopt a back-to-basics approach and replace processed and GMO foods with natural, organic options

Although organic food is more expensive, some consumers will pay extra for it. After all, there's a common perception that organic produce is more nutritious and healthier because it is grown without additives, pesticides, substances banned by the USDA, or other chemicals. However, those are exactly some of the things people get wrong about organic food

Organic food can be worth the hype, especially when it comes to meat. For instance, studies suggest that organic meat has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than its non-organic counterpart (via Healthline). Organic meat needs to come from animals raised in their natural habitat (think of cows grazing grass in a pasture) and without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. For chicken, it needs to be free-range, and the feed the chickens eat needs to be organic. 

With this idea of wellness in mind, a farm in Thailand is taking its organic chicken feed in a, well, "higher" direction.

Chicken feed with cannabis instead of antibiotics

Yep, you've read that right. An organic farm in northern Thailand has been feeding cannabis to their free-range chickens for more than a year as an alternative to antibiotics (per Insider). The experiment, led by the researchers from Chiang Mai University's (CMU) Department of Animal and Aquatic Sciences, seems to be working. Less than 10% of the 1,000 chickens have died since they started incorporating crushed marijuana into chicken feed in January 2021, which is in line with the chickens' mortality rate during a normal season.

With the increased demand for organic poultry, the antibiotic-free and cannabis-fed birds are fetching twice the regular price from consumers (about $1.50 per pound). Chompunut Lumsangkul, an assistant professor at CMU, told Insider that the chicken — dubbed "GanjaChicken" — reduced farmers' dependence on antibiotics and made the meat healthier and more tender. 

But who came up with this budding idea of feeding cannabis to chickens? Credit Ong-ard Panyachatiraksa. With a license to grow medicinal cannabis, the farm owner in northern Thailand had to devise a way to get rid of the excess leaves. He started using his abundant cannabis leaves as chicken feed (per The Guardian). 

We're sure some people must be curious to know if eating GanjaChicken can make someone high. Lumsangkul says no, because there are no traces of THC present in the chicken's body when a person eats it.