While so much research goes into the human food options for tomorrow, we also need to consider where animals will get their food from without impacting the world around us. When it comes to looking at food sources of the future, one of the top options on offer is insect meal for poultry. Today we’re going to discover the answer to the question of what insects do chickens eat and how insect meal for poultry could change farming in the future. There’s no denying that hens love eating insects, and they often forage for them without any intervention from us. However, many chicken diets no longer include any form of insects. Insect meal for poultry may be something they are unsure about at first, but in no time at all, they’ll enjoy it just as they would typically in nature.
What Insects Do Chickens Eat? | Advantages Of Insect Meal For Poultry | Improvement Of Pecking Behaviours In Chickens
What Insects Do Chickens Eat?
One of the most common types of insects that chickens eat are larvae of the black soldier fly. They provide many benefits to the birds, including improving the health of their organs, immune system and gut. For farmers looking for alternatives to antibiotics, insect meal for poultry could help eliminate the need for antibiotics. In addition to the internal health benefits of the alternative chicken feed, the chickens also have better feather cover that keeps them warm and safe.
One of the biggest questions for farmers in regards to switching to insect meal for poultry is how they will get this product in the first place. The great news is that raising black soldier fly larvae for chickens is much quicker and easier than you could imagine. In just two weeks, their body size multiplies. Therefore, it’s a quick and sustainable way to feed chickens for the future. Insects often feed on food by-products that would otherwise go to waste. They can thrive in a small and darker environment than other animals, so they won’t take up a huge amount of farming land. As you can see, insect meal for poultry is going to be a great option to help us overcome the current climate crisis and find a more sustainable solution for feeding poultry in the future.
Advantages Of Insect Meal For Poultry
There are many benefits of switching over to insect meal for poultry. The rising cost of poultry food is one of the main reasons for switching over to insect meal for poultry. A recent Defra report shared in Poultry News stated that the “forecast that input costs for specialist poultry producers will go up by around 8%, driven by increased feed costs.” On top of that, insect feed is a great way to find a more sustainable solution and minimise the issues related to supply chain concerns with the reliance on soy. For the chickens, the protein content is extremely high in insects, making it a great supplement to their current diet. You will find that they are much stronger both internally and externally and can take care of themselves throughout the year.
Experts such as Dennis Oonincx from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands state that it makes sense to switch over to insect meal as this used to be part of their natural diet. While chickens held in captivity aren’t necessarily used to consuming insect chicken feed, they soon enjoy the taste and texture of it as it’s just part of their DNA. Their overall welfare improves upon switching to this type of feed source, increasing their body weight while also calming their behaviour. As for the production of insects, they require very little energy, water or land. They are a rich protein source that can be grown much more locally than soy which has to travel thousands of miles to reach a farm. With improvement in technology, this process can even be managed remotely, and you’ll find that it takes much less effort raising insects for chickens than farmers often think it would
Improvement Of Pecking Behaviours In Chickens
One of the most noticeable improvements that we see when switching to insect meal for poultry is an improvement to pecking chicken behaviours. Insects help to promote natural behaviours within chickens, as this is what they would be doing if they were left to their own devices in the wild. When you observe a hen in the wild, they’ll spend their day foraging and pecking, but oftentimes this is directed towards their fellow hens. This is something any farmer needs to try to reduce, and the introduction of insects for poultry feed can assist with this. They spend more time looking for insects such as maggots and less time pecking other hens. Alongside all of the other benefits we shared above, it’s clear why it’s time for farmers to start making the switch to insect meal.
We all need to play our part to protect the world from the climate change crisis. For both poultry and farmers, switching to insect meal for poultry offers many benefits. You’ll find that you can offer your animals a healthier and happier life, and they’ll soon appreciate the taste and texture of insects. We encourage you to use a specific station to help introduce this feed, and they’ll soon associate that area with insects. In no time at all, you’ll overcome any aggressive pecking and ensure that your poultry remains in good health for as long as possible. Of course, we are excited to see more farmers look into this solution in the future, and we believe it’s not too long until this becomes one of the most common poultry feed solutions.