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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Dr Elaine Fitches

Fitches, E.C., Hermans, D., Dickinson, M., Charlton, A.C., Wakefield, M.E., Kenis, M., Muys, B., Smith, R., Melzer-Venturi, G. & Bruggeman, G. (2017), Insects as sustainable feed ingredients: Case study: Assessing the performance of broilers fed on diets containing crude and processed housefly larval meal, Poulty beyond 2023 6th International Broiler Nutritionists’ Conference. Queenstown, New Zeland.

Author(s) from Durham


Musca domestica larvae reared on poultry manure and used as a meal or “fat-washed” extract have been assessed for their suitability as a partial replacement for soybean meal and oil in a broiler performance trial. This trial formed a component of a larger European Union funded research programme that investigated the potential for the exploitation insects as a protein source for animal feed. Insect meal comprised approx. 42 % protein and 29 % fat on a dry wt. basis, whereas processed (fat-washed) extract contained 68 % protein and 13 % fat. Insect protein contained higher levels of key amino acids lysine, threonine, methionine, cysteine and tryptophan but a lower level of arginine as compared to soybean meal. Insect fat was comprised principally of saturated palmitic and monounsaturated palmitoleic and oleic fatty acids with notably lower levels of polyunsaturated linolenic and linoleic fatty acids as compared to soya bean oil. Inclusion of crude or processed insect meals at 2 % and 1.25 % respectively, had no significant positive or detrimental effects on broiler health or performance. All treatments showed highly similar gains in body weight, and food conversion ratio’s (FCR’s) over a 39-day trial period. No taints were detected in meat derived from insect fed animals. Nutritional analysis of meat derived from the trial showed that protein, amino acid and trace element levels were comparable between treatments. Total fat content was higher in meat derived from birds fed on full-fat insect meal as compared to fat-washed diets or control treatments. A comprehensive safety screen showed contaminant levels in the insect meal to be either undetectable or below recommended maximum concentrations for feed (WHO, Codex, EC) and levels in meat were comparable between insect and control treatments.