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Source: The post is based on the article “Black soldier fly larvae can be a cheap, nutritious alternative to cereal-based poultry feed” published in Down To Earth on 15th February 2023.
What is the News?
India is among the top five chicken and egg producers in the world, but there are challenges to the business for small poultry farmers because of the quality, quantity and cost of poultry feed.
What are the challenges in the availability of poultry feed for chickens?
Poultry feeds account for up to 70% of the entire cost of poultry production.
Besides, the conventional feed supplied to the poultry, majorly cereals and soya, competes with the food demands of a growing human population.
Hence, in addition to rising costs, feed resource availability is a major determinant of the sustainability of the poultry sector.
What are the solutions available in poultry feed for chickens?
The above concerns have in recent years drawn the attention of researchers towards exploring low-cost alternatives to conventional poultry feed.
One such alternative is brewers dried grains, a byproduct of the brewing industry. Though rich in protein and amino acids, its limitations include high moisture and fibre content.
Rice bran is another economically viable alternative to wheat in certain parts of the country. It has a comparable apparent metabolisable energy as wheat. However, studies show that the laying performance of the chicks declined on the incorporation of rice bran into the feed.
Hence, researchers now focussed on the utilization of insects as a substitute for conventional poultry feed. They found that larvae of black soldier fly can be a good alternative.
What is Black Soldier Fly?
Black soldier fly is a common and widespread fly of the family Stratiomyidae.
They feed on a variety of organic matter, from rejected food waste to manure.
They also have high waste-to-biomass conversion efficiency. This means, unlike hot-blooded mammals and birds, which use a lot of energy to keep themselves warm, insects are efficient converters of food into body mass.
Why Black Soldier Fly can be a good alternative for poultry feed?
Black Soldier Fly larvae can be a low-cost, low-footprint, eco-friendly as well as natural feed companion to poultry farmers.
The larvae are capable of converting organic waste into a wide range of useful vitamins and minerals.
They are thus rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and so on, which makes them a promising candidate for livestock feed.