Long-term access to live black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) stimulates activity and reduces fearfulness of broilers, without affecting health

Allyson F. Ipema*, Eddie A.M. Bokkers, Walter J.J. Gerrits, Bas Kemp, Liesbeth Bolhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Commercially housed broilers frequently experience limited environmental stimulation and various health issues, compromising their welfare. Providing environmental enrichment can alleviate these problems by facilitating natural behaviour and activity. We investigated the effect of providing live black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to broilers housed at commercial densities (33 kg/m2) on behaviour, fearfulness, health and performance. One-day-old broilers were distributed over five treatments with eight pens/treatment: a control treatment without BSFL; two treatments where 5% of the daily nutrient intake was replaced with live BSFL, provided four or seven times a day; and two treatments where 10% of the daily dietary intake was replaced with live BSFL provided four times a day or in transparent, movable tubes with holes. In all BSFL treatments foraging behaviour, and thereby broiler activity, was increased. Prolonged access to live BSFL, either by providing larvae seven times a day or in tubes, caused the largest increase in activity while also decreasing the time spend in tonic immobility, indicating reduced fearfulness. Broiler final weight and health were not affected. Overall, long-term access to live BSFL seems most effective in improving broiler welfare by facilitating natural behaviour and reducing fearfulness, without hindering broiler performance and health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17428
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

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