Insect protein provides a suitable substitute for proteins like soy in organic chicken feed, increases meat production and quality
Insects are an important dietary protein component for free-range, pasture-raised chickens, but commercial chicken feeds contain other types of protein like soybean meal that result in high feed ratio conversions and production rates. A recent study published in the journal Animals shows that substituting traditional proteins in certified organic chicken feed with insects (Calliphorid fly larvae; CLM) results in similar production outcomes and higher quality meat. In this study, chickens were fed diets with varying quantities of certified organic commercial feed and insect meal. As diets increased in proportions of insect meal, overall chicken weights and rates of weight gain increased, although overall food consumption and feed conversion ratios were reduced. Meat quality metrics were measured and chickens with more CLM had less cooking loss and more palmitoleic acid, an important Omega-7 fatty acid reported to reduce cardiovascular disease and increase metabolism of cholesterol. Results from this study suggest that commercial feeds could incorporate more sustainable insect sources of protein without sacrificing meat production and quality. This is especially helpful when domestic U.S. supplies of organic feed components like soy are limited.
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