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In: Book of Abstracts of the 68th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
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One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations is to achieve food security and improved nutrition. To be successful in feeding the rapidly growing human population, we need innovative changes in food production. The challenge of safeguarding food security is considerable because many potential solutions are incompatible with solutions for other challenges that we face, including climate change mitigation and halting the biodiversity loss. To produce animal proteins, we currently rely to a large extent on feedstuff for livestock that is either suitable as food for humans (e.g. cereals and soymeal) or on a resource that is becoming scarce due to overfishing of the oceans (fishmeal). To set a first step towards a circular approach to feed production, insects provide interesting opportunities as various species can be reared on organic waste streams, including waste streams of food production and manure. This paper discusses the opportunities for using insects as a valuable feed source for the production of livestock. Insects do not only provide excellent opportunities to replace fishmeal and soymeal, but may also have important additional benefits. These include positive effects on livestock health and welfare with opportunities to reduce antibiotic use in livestock production. This is discussed in the integrated context of five of the sustainable development goals. Recent entrepreneurial and regulatory developments underline the opportunities for employing insects as feed. In this development an important indirect effect may be that consumers get acquainted with insects as a valuable and sustainable component of the food chain. This may result in the acceleration of adopting insects as food and thus of producing mini-livestock as a sustainable source of animal protein.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

The growing human population, changing dietary habits and intensifying competition between food and feed production underline the urgent need to explore novel sustainable production chains. In the past, the poultry sector has gained popularity due to its superior environmental and economic benefits compared to other livestock production systems. Therefore, it is of special interest to focus on refinement and innovation along the value chain to further improve the sector’s sustainability. One major issue is the transition towards sustainable protein sources in poultry feed. In this regard, insects are the secret rising stars. Insect species such as the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) and house fly (Musca domestica) have been proposed for farming as multifunctional mini-livestock for feed. One major property of these flies is that larvae can convert low-quality organic waste streams into valuable body mass containing high levels of high-quality protein and fat. Furthermore, the larvae are reported to have health- and welfare-promoting effects due to bioactive compounds and poultry having a natural interest in them. The aim of the current paper is to discuss the state-of-the-art of using black soldier fly and house fly larvae as components of poultry feed and to highlight knowledge gaps, future opportunities and challenges. Some first studies have focussed on the successful partial replacement of soybean meal or fishmeal by these insects on poultry performance. However, since the sector is still in its infancy several uncertainties remain to be addressed. More research is required on identifying optimal inclusion levels, clearly differentiating between insect products based on their nutritional value and health-stimulating effects, and comparing the potential of insect products across species.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

The black soldier fly (BSF; Hermetia illucens L.; Diptera: Stratiomyidae) has been studied for its capability to convert organic waste to high quality protein, control certain harmful bacteria and insect pests, provide potential chemical precursors to produce biodiesel and for its use as feed for a variety of animals. Nutritional value of BSF larvae is discussed, as well as the effect of biotic and abiotic factors on both larval body composition and performance. Although BSF larvae contain high protein levels (from 37 to 63% dry matter; DM), and other macro- and micronutrients important for animal feed, the available studies on including BSF larvae in feed rations for poultry, pigs and fish suggest that it could only partially replace traditional feedstuff, because high or complete replacement resulted in reduced performance. This is due to factors such as high fat content (from 7 to 39% DM), ash (from 9 to 28% DM), and consequences of processing. Therefore, further studies are needed on nutrient composition, digestibility and availability for target species and on improved methods to process larvae, among other aspects. Additionally, it is clear that factors including quantity and quality of food, temperature, substrate moisture and/or larval crowding can affect BSF performance. However, the biology of BSF, in particular of the adult stage, has not been studied in detail. This review provides background information on the nutritional value of BSF larvae, its suitability as animal feed, biotic and abiotic conditions that affect its performance, and identifies which knowledge is required to ensure more dependable yields of BSF-mass rearing and development of economically feasible methods to take advantage of this species as animal feed.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Abstract

Feeding poultry with live insect larvae stimulates natural behaviour and improves poultry welfare, when poultry has prolonged or frequent access to the larvae. But how to feed live insect larvae to poultry without labour-intensive hand feeding? This paper focusses on the development of a device that overcomes this challenge. A circular device was designed with eight storage compartments, which were filled once a day with live Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae (Hermetia illucens). A motor controlled the timed rotation of the device multiple times per day, initiating the release of larvae when a compartment was pushed over an outlet. Every 60 minutes, a new compartment was pushed over the outlet, which means that after eight hours all compartments are emptied. To achieve a gradual release of larvae per storage compartment the device was timed to move every 30 minutes half a storage compartment forward. The larval release was recorded every 5 minutes within the 60 minutes. The device was tested at 18 °C, 24 °C and 30 °C, with 3.4 g and 129.8 g BSF larvae per compartment, and with three different outlet types of different size and shape. The larval release rate was influenced by temperature, amount of larvae, outlet type, and interactions between these factors. After placing a new compartment above the outlet, 50% of the larvae were on average released within 6 minutes. After 60 minutes, on average only 0.5% larvae remained in the compartment. Outlets with wider openings are preferred over the outlet with the narrowest outlet because less larvae remained in the compartments. The dispenser fulfilled the low-labour-intensity requirement as filling was only necessary once a day, the release of different amounts of larvae was achieved over several hours. This automatic dispenser provides a valuable tool to investigate the behaviour of poultry fed with live BSF larvae.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Protein (P) and carbohydrate (C) concentrations present in food affect larval performance, larval body nutrient concentration, and fecundity of the black soldier fly (BSF). We substantially expanded the range of dietary P- and C-concentrations investigated thus far to assess the effects of nutritionally – unbalanced diets on BSF larval and adult life-history traits, and on larval body protein and lipid concentrations. Twenty five artificial diets varying in their P- and C-concentration and ratio were formulated. We tested five macronutrient (P+C) concentrations (5, 15, 25, 50 and 75%) and five P:C ratios (1:1, 1:2, 1:4, 2:1 and 4:1). BSF performance was affected by P+C-concentration rather than by P:C ratios. A P-concentration between 10 and 15% and a C-concentration between 10 and 60% supported high larval and adult performance. P-concentration is limiting for most of the performance variables, however, a P-concentration higher than 37% reduced larval survival. C-concentration affected egg production more strongly than P-concentration. Overall, at P+C values of 25 and 50%, and P:C ratios 1:2 and 1:4 resulted in the highest values of most of the larval and adult performance variables we measured. For the protein and carbohydrate sources tested, dietary macronutrient concentrations significantly affected larval and adult performance of BSF in different ways. These results show a remarkable degree of nutritional plasticity, and point to the relevance of differentiating the formulation of diets to achieve maximal larval yield, high body protein or high body lipid accumulation or high adult emergence and egg production.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Using black soldier fly (BSF, Hermetia illucens) larvae as a novel protein source substituting fishmeal (FM) in animal feeds is globally gaining momentum. BSF can be reared on agro-industrial residues. However, incorporating BSF larval meal (BSFLM) into finisher pig diets has received inadequate attention. This study evaluated the effects of replacing dietary FM with BSFLM on growth, carcass traits and meat quality of finisher pigs. A control diet (including FM: 0% BSFLM) was compared with four dietary levels of replacement of FM with BSFLM at 25, 50, 75 or 100%. Forty hybrid pigs (crossbreeds of purebred Large White and Landrace) were randomly allocated to the five different dietary treatments. Feed intake, body weight gain and feed conversion ratio were measured. After 98 days of feeding, all pigs were slaughtered for the evaluation of carcass and nutritional content of the organ and muscle tissues. Diet significantly affected pig growth performance. Carcass weight of pigs fed diets with BSFLM replacing FM by 50, 75 or 100% (w/w) was higher than for pigs fed control diet with 100% FM as protein source. Crude protein content of pork tissues was high (65-93% on dry-matter basis) across all dietary groups. Therefore, BSFLM can replace FM in pig feed. This is relevant for commercial pig feed production and provides for the first time a nutritional analysis of pork derived from pigs raised on BSFLM.

Open Access
In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed