Black Solider Fly Larvae as a Chicken Feed

Posted by Spencer Doepel on

                                        Black Solider Fly Meal as Chicken Feed

Insects could be a better alternative source of high protein ingredients in Chicken’s diets. The potential of using insect meals to replace fishmeal seems to show promising perspectives.

Among these insects, black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, has a higher protein and fat content, This makes it ideal for using it in poultry feed formulation and makes it one of the best insect species for commercial production.

Protein content and amino acid profile In H. illucens larvae are comparable to those in many protein-rich feeds such as fish meal and Soybean meal. BSF can convert organic wastes into a precious source of nutrients, such as proteins, Lipids, and chitin, which contribute to reducing the environmental burden and pollution potential arising from organic waste accumulation.

This article focuses on the significance of this insect as a Sustainable Protein source as well as the importance of its use as a substitute for protein-rich feedstuff in Chicken Feed manufacturing.

In recent years, the growing world population has played an important role in the change in human diet patterns, resulting in increased pressure on the livestock sector to meet the growing demand for high-value animal protein.

 Poultry is by far the largest livestock group and a key source of protein. However, the increasing cost of feed is the main obstacle in the progress of the poultry industry. Feed cost can form up to 70% of the total cost of poultry production.

Proteins from animal sources are considered over plant protein sources because proteins from animals have a better profile of amino acids and excellent vitamin content. Fish meal is considered as a high-quality protein source for chicken feeds and is mainly used in the poultry feed industry. However, the high price of fish meal has led to a search for alternative protein sources.

Therefore, to reduce feed cost, research efforts are being made to find the alternative feed source for the poultry feed industry and such alternatives should have high nutrition value but cheaper than the conventional protein sources.

Insects are natural food sources for Chickens, and they are considered as the main protein source for Chickens in the wild. Insects contain a good amount of protein, which can be as high as 64%  to as low as 39.16%, with a high balance of essential amino acids.

One such Insect is black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae which have the huge potential to replace fish meal in the diet of Chickens. The black soldier fly is a true fly (Diptera) of the family Stratiomyidae.
Though originally native to the Americas, it now occurs worldwide in tropical and temperate regions.


Adults consume nothing but water, do not approach humans, do not bite or sting, and do not vector or disseminate any specific diseases. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are reported as feeding on an immense variety of organic material and have already been used in small-scale waste management purposes using substrates such as manure, rice straw, food waste, distillers, grains, fecal sludge, animal offal, kitchen waste, and so on.

Studies show that dried black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal can replace at least 25% of the fish meal in a diet with no reduction in gain or feed conversion ratio (FCR) in Chickens.

BSFL as Chickens feed
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended an amendment of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ingredient definition of dried black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to include feeding to poultry. The approval of BSFL for use in poultry feed expands the potential for this ingredient as a more sustainable source of protein and enables a nutritious, natural feed ingredient for poultry diets.

Black soldier fly larvae ingredients (meal, oil, and whole larvae) provide an exciting nutrient option for Chickens with significant amounts of energy, protein, essential amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals that support the Chickens body weight, egg production, and quality.

Studies proved that BSF larvae and prepupae, grown on swine manure or kitchen waste, have been used satisfactorily as a feed additive for young chicks. Partial replacement of soy meal (10-20%) for broilers showed an improved production performance, feed efficiency, and low mortality.

The partial (50%) or full replacement of soybean cake by BSFL larval meal in a diet for layer Chickens did not affect their laying performance and feed efficiency if compared to organic standard diets for layers. Additionally, studies prove that BSFL larvae have suitable mineral content for the nutrition of Chickens.

Nutritional Value of Dried Black Solider Fly Meal

Protein content
Dried Black soldier larvae meal or bug meal has a rich content of protein and fat, which reinforces the potential of using it in Chicken feeds.

 The dry weight of Black Soldier Fly larvae (BSFL) contains up to 50% crude protein(CP), up to 35% lipids, and has an amino acid profile that is similar to that of fishmeal.

Amino acid content
BSFL larvae meal, based on the content of amino acids, makes it a good source of protein in Chickens diets.

Nowadays, a poultry diet is formulated based on plant protein sources. Cereal protein is the core component of worldwide diets. In addition, lysine, methionine, and threonine are major limiting essential amino acids in cereal-based diets for poultry.

 BSFL has high levels of essential amino acids and has a better amino acid profile compared with that of soya bean meal and most of the common conventional protein source. Moreover, corn gluten meal (60%) is one of the conventional protein sources in poultry feed. Content of essential amino acids in BSF larvae meal is overall better than content in corn gluten meal (60%); they are similar in valine, while BSF larvae are higher in lysine and arginine, and lower in methionine, threonine, and isoleucine.

Fatty acid content
BSF larvae and prepupae have been found to contain 58- 72% saturated fatty acids and 19-40% mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids of total fat content containing high levels of lauric, palmitic, and oleic acid. It seems that the fatty acid (FA) profile of larvae and prepupae depends on their diet.

Mineral content
BSF larvae contain higher mineral concentrations compared to other insects.
Manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) are found in high concentrations, with the highest Ca:P ratio.

BSFL meal has over one order of magnitude more calcium than most other insects (6.6–9.3% by dry weight compared to less than 1% for other insects) and more than fish meal providing a considerable advantage to BSFL over other insects nutritionally.

They also provide adequate levels of other essential minerals and vitamins at a level equivalent or superior to other insects.

Key Benefits of Using Dried Black Soldier Larvae Meal
Dried Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are a great source of protein and calcium for chickens. Because they have both protein and calcium, along with many other nutrients and other added benefits, BSFL is one of the best treats you can offer your Chickens. 

Protein is necessary for healthy feathers and eggs, and calcium ensures strong healthy eggshells. Calcium is especially important because an eggshell is around 95% calcium carbonate. If a chicken doesn’t have enough calcium, the eggshell became weaker and their bodies will pull calcium from their bones and beaks in order to strengthen the eggshell. BSFL are an easy way to give your flock an extra source of calcium to ensure they lay healthy eggs.

BSFL are an eco-friendly protein source because they can be raised on food waste and need much less water than traditional protein sources like soy. Raising your own BSFL is very sustainable since you can use your own compost instead of buying a separate food source. You can also use the waste produced by BSFL as fertilizer.   

Other Benefits
You can offer either live or dried BSFL to your chickens as a treat or mixed in with their regular feed. The high protein content and added calcium make them an especially healthy treat. BSFL doesn’t smell, and the flies don’t bite or spread disease. They have antimicrobial properties that increase the health of chickens, and they even keep away the common house fly, which further decreases the risk of disease. 

Using Insects as a sustainable protein source in the poultry diet might play an important part in achieving food security. Taking into account the precautions that prevent the accumulation of some substances that are harmful to consumers in insect biomass.
Using the organic wastes to feed the insects and using these insects in poultry feed may provide
Effective economic sustainability of the poultry industry. Simultaneously, the integration between the
Production of insect biomass as a feed ingredient and reduction of organic wastes such as restaurants
Waste, household organic waste, etc. It can contribute to the reduction of the environmental burdens And add biological values to these forms of waste. In order to achieve this objective, there is a need To select suitable insects for large-scale production, high growth performance, high feed conversion, Less mortality, good disease resistance, and protein quality. From this perspective, BSFL is an excellent Candidate. It has been observed from the most recent literature that insects represent a novel and Promising feed ingredient for poultry diets and could potentially be used as substitution ingredients of Soybean or fish meals in layer or broiler diets. However, further research should be done in order to Assess the highest possible level of BSF larvae meal that may be applied to poultry diets, without a Negative effect on growth performance, palatability, nutritional composition, or flavor of meat and Eggs.


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