Insect use in animal nutrition represents more than just another nutrient source. Insects have prebiotic effects, enhance immune responses and confer greater disease resistance in production animals when included as feed.
Insects in animal nutrition represent a growing trend with huge potential. It is important to understand what are the current regulations in regards to their inclusion in animal feed and what are some of the market perspectives around the globe.
More than just a source of nutrients
Some studies show that insects have prebiotic effects, as well as acting as immune response enhancers which confer greater disease resistance to several production animal species. Insects may contain bioactive compounds such as uric acid, antimicrobial peptides and chitin that can act as prebiotics, with the ability to:
Modulate intestinal microbiota
Increase the shelf life of rations containing insect flour.
Chitin is the most common carbohydrate found in insects. The ability of monogastric animals to digest chitin is still a matter of discussion amongst researchers.
Scientific reports indicate that ingested chitin can promote different improvements such as:
Researchers from UFLA and UFMG found that tilapia snared cornmeal presented improvement in immunological parameters (Alves et al. 2021). Improvements in immunological parameters of trout fed partially defatted black soldier fly larvae (Bruni et al., 2018) have also been reported. This study showed that:
The same study also revealed that the substitution of up to 50% of fishmeal by partially defatted insect meal did not alter trout’s fillet yield. Studies conducted with laying hens and pigs have also reported beneficial effects on intestinal microbiota and antimicrobial effects against bacteria causing gastrointestinal diseases (Devi et al., 2014; Borelli et al., 2017).
|Regulatory aspects in regards to the use of insects in animal nutrition.|
In the European Union, the approval of insect use in animal nutrition occurred in July 2017. Where seven insect species were allowed to be included as fish feed:
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