By LISA RATHKE
Toby Talbot/Associated Press
John Vitko feeds his chickens in Warren, Vt. Vitko says hemp would be the perfect feed crop for his egg-laying chickens used in his specialty custard business.
John Vitko would like to grow hemp on his Vermont farm to use as feed for his chickens now that Vermont has passed a law setting up rules to grow it. He doesn’t know where to find any seed and knows he would be breaking federal law if he finds some and grows a small amount of the plant.
With the cost of feed continually rising, he said hemp provides an economical way to feed and provide bedding for his 100 birds, whose eggs are used in the custard-based ice cream he sells to restaurants and in a dessert shop in Waitsfield.
“It’s one of the few things that are manageable for a small farmer to handle,” he said of hemp, which doesn’t require large equipment to plant and harvest as corn does.
“It’s complete protein,” he said. “It has all their amino acids. It’s a seed which birds like.”