Feed conversion, survival and development, and composition of four insect species on diets composed of food by-products

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Abstract

A large part of the environmental impact of animal production systems is due to the production of feed. Insects are suggested to efficiently convert feed to body mass and might therefore form a more sustainable food and/or feed source. Four diets were composed from byproducts of food manufacturing and formulated such as to vary in protein and fat content. These were offered to newly hatched Argentinean cockroaches, black soldier flies, yellow mealworms, and house crickets. The first two species are potentially interesting as a feed ingredient, while the latter two are considered edible for humans. Feed conversion efficiency, survival, development time, as well as chemical composition (nitrogen, phosphorus, and fatty acids), were determined. The Argentinean cockroaches and the black soldier flies converted feed more efficiently than yellow mealworms, and house crickets. The first two were also more efficient than conventional production animals. On three of the four diets yellow mealworms and house crickets had a feed conversion efficiency similar to pigs. Furthermore, on the most suitable diet, they converted their feed as efficiently as poultry, when corrected for edible portion. All four species had a higher nitrogen-efficiency than conventional production animals, when corrected for edible portion. Offering carrots to yellow mealworms increased dry matter-and nitrogen-efficiency and decreased development time. Diet affected survival in all species but black soldier flies, and development time was strongly influenced in all four species. The chemical composition of Argentinean cockroaches was highly variable between diets, for black soldier flies it remained similar. The investigated species can be considered efficient production animals when suitable diets are provided. Hence, they could form a sustainable alternative to conventional production animals as a source of feed or food.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0144601
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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