Insect products as health promoter in poultry and pig feed
Current food production will need to almost double in 2050 since the world will host 9 million
people. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable
option. Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water shortages causing serious
repercussions for the planet’s resources, socio-economic development, and environmental
sustainability. Recently, insects have received increased attention as an important source of
sustainable raw materials for animal feed, especially in fish, poultry, and swine. The use of insects
for feeding farmed animals represents a promising alternative because of the nutritional properties of insects and the possible environmental benefits, given the sustainability of this type of farming. Several insect species can be efficiently raised on organic side streams and fed to a variety of animal species. In general, most edible insect species appear to be good sources of amino acids, fatty acids, most minerals, and most B vitamins. Next to nutritional properties insects also may have additional health benefits compared to conventional feed sources according to available literature and preliminary results of in vitro research and in vivo broiler research in PPS AF-16178). Insect compounds such as chitin, lauric acid and antimicrobial peptides may have positive effects on animals fed insect-based feed. The aim of the current project is to further specify the functional properties of different insect isolates and fractions and the development of innovative feeding concepts with insect products based on these functional properties. The knowledge gained from this project will result in new opportunities to substituting non-sustainable feed ingredients by sustainable insect chitin, proteins and oils and include health supporting insect products in poultry (broilers) and pig feed (piglets). As a result the use of antibiotics in the poultry and pig chain may decrease by the use of certain insect isolates and contribute in this way to animal health and welfare and to circularity and climate neutral agriculture and appreciated healthy and safe food.
2.2 Project target
The project aims to:
• Determine the functional properties towards animal health of different insect products in animal feeds for application in broilers and piglets.
• Develop innovative feeding concepts targeted at support of animal health by using insect products in diets for broilers and piglets based on identified functional properties.
The world population is expected to grow by over a third, reaching over 9 billion people in 2050. This will have as main consequence that the world will have to produce 70% more food. Livestock production (in particular that of poultry and swine) will have to grow rapidly if per capita intake is to be maintained. Therefore, a major concern is to guarantee the global capacity to provide enough animal feed (in particular protein ingredients), trying to avoid as much as possible competition with human food demand. For this purpose, insects have been proposed as a high quality, efficient and sustainable alternative protein source for poultry and swine. The major environmental advantages of insect farming are: (1) reduced use of land and water; (2) low greenhouse gas emissions; (3) high feed conversion efficiencies; (4) transformation of low-value organic by-products into high quality feed ingredients. Results are promising but as industry interest is growing fast, further information is needed to fully assess the potential of these innovative raw materials. Research on the use of insect products in animal nutrition is currently most focused on dietary substitution of traditional proteins sources such as soybean meal and fish meal but research on health promoting effects of insect products in animal nutrition is rather limited. For the livestock sector several reasons exist for considering insects as a promising alternative source of animal protein. Research is currently most focused on generating knowledge on how to use insects in a tailored way as an alternative source of protein for human consumption, direct or indirect through the feed chain. Nowadays, there is an increasing concern for the public health about the consequences from the long and increased use of antibiotics in livestock production. The use of antibiotics in animal feed as growth promoters has been completely banned by the European Union since 2006, based on their possible negative effects on human and animal health. The removal of growth promoters has led to animal performance problems and a rise in the incidence of certain animal diseases which equals economic losses for the farmers. Furthermore consumers are increasingly concerned about the potential development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Taken together, there is an urgent need to develop alternatives to antibiotics to prevent the health problems and to improve the growth performance in farm animals. Beneficial effects of currently used alternatives to in-feed antibiotics, i.e. probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, phytogenic compounds and zeolites on health and growth performance in farm animals have been demonstrated. The utilization of insects as novel feed additives to improve gut health has also attracted increasing interest, because insects contain bioactive components, such as lauric acid, antimicrobial peptides, and chitin which may have immune-boosting properties. Literature on health stimulating effects of insect products in animal feed is scarce and therefore the knowledge developed in this project will contribute to the application of novel insect products fitting into a circular climate neutral agriculture and food production and healthy and safe food. Based on available literature and preliminary results of in vitro and in vivo research on antibacterial and immunological effects of insect products in broilers in a work package of PPS AF-16178, this PPS project will continue demonstrating the beneficial health effects of black soldier fly products such as chitin, antimicrobial peptides and lauric acid in feed for pigs and poultry. Most promising insect products will be selected and the products will be included at different inclusion levels in pig and poultry feed to study the dosage at which those products will guarantee their health beneficial effects.
Results of the project are:
• Pre-competitive knowledge on functional properties of insect products for broilers and piglets.
• Innovative feeding concepts including insect products in animal feed.
2021: Report In vivo broiler study with optimal inclusion level to guarantee health modulating effects
2022: Report In vitro test insect isolates for pigs and validation of health modulating effects in vivo
2023: Two scientific publications on health modulating effects of insect isolates in broilers and pigs