I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of studies on BSF that are being published in 2017- such high quality and impactful work. Secondly, it is great to see research on the BSF expanding out to other fields of expertise- such as animal nutrition.
The study to be discussed below examined the impact of BSF larvae as a feed ingredient for poultry. They specifically examined the impact of BSF-containing diets on the bacterial community in the gut of laying hens as well as the health of the hens. You will want to read this study- very well done.
Borrelli, L., L. Coretti, L. Dipineto, F. Bovera, F. Menna, L. Chiariotti, A. Nizza, F. Lembo, and A. Fioretti. 2017. Insect-based diet, a promising nutritional source, modulates gut microbiota composition and SCFAs production in laying hens. Scientific Reports 7: 16269.
In this study they had two diets- a standard soy-cornmeal diet and a treatment diet where the soy was replaced by BSF meal.
What did they find for those hens fed an insect diet:
1. After 21 weeks all birds were healthy (no mortality, diarrhea, or other signs of illness)
2. Lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides
3. Lower feed intake and weight gain (because the hens are satiated- a good thing, which links with recent posts on various blogs about using fermented feed... the animals just experience being "full" with less feed)
4. Lower cholesterol content in the egg yolks produced (healthier eggs, maybe?)
5. Shifts in bacterial community in gut of chicken
6. Increased bacteria diversity in gut of chickens
7. Increases in Oscillospira bacteria which could reduce Clostridium difficile
8. Here is a key point (hypothesis) proposed by the authors- the shift in the bacterial community could enhance chitin degradation and enhance short chain fatty acids production.
9. Could enhance nutrient uptake (e.g., vitamins)
This study is fairly positive for the BSF community. I am really excited as it demonstrates the BSF could be a great way to maintain a healthier and possibly "happier" animal. I would think this would be important to enhancing the design of confined animal facilities but from a nutritional aspect. Am I surprised? No... being that chickens eat insects, I am not surprised that their eating insect meal results in greater health.
Of course, like with all research, others should replicate and verify these results.
Until next time- best of luck and happy BSF farming!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, BSF nutrition planner
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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