Australian review: Using insects in poultry feed

silk worms
silk worms

Most studies on the possibilities of using insects in poultry feed has focused on the species of insects but not the rearing of insects commercially which requires knowledge of insect rearing, feeding and production methods

Research into the feasibility of feeding insects to poultry has shown that a number of insect taxa including silkworms, locusts, fly larvae, crickets and grasshoppers can be safely fed to chickens without compromising the quality and palatability of the meat.

However, this review examines this issue in greater depth by reviewing current literature and through discussions with the poultry farmers in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, Australia.

A survey of poultry farmers found an acceptance of feeding insect to poultry provided it could be done economically and indicated that insects could be reared and fed on a variety of organic waste materials which are available in adequate amounts in different regions.

The technique of feeding insects to poultry will be beneficial in developing agriculture based recycling systems, reducing waste and potentially aid in reducing environmental pollution. Depending on the insect species and whether the diet of insects is fed to meat producing or egg laying birds it will likely need to be supplemented with either or both calcium and limiting amino acids to meet the chicken’s dietary requirement. The safety and economic viability of breeding and rearing insects on organic wastes and feeding to poultry needs to be assessed.

In order to be economically feasible, the overall cost of rearing and feeding insects to poultry needs to be lower than the cost of feeding conventional protein sources like grains and soybean meal. The technique of feeding insects to poultry needs to be able to be easily adopted and readily adaptable by the industry to a range of farming systems.

Further research needs to investigate these issues in more detail both by establishing small experiments and developing production models which include insects reared ‘onsite’ in the poultry diet.

This is an abstract from the World’s Poultry Science Association’s Journal.

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