AB Agri researches insect-derived poultry, pig feed protein options

Project aims to help replace soybean meal, fishmeal

A project focusing on using insect-derived feed protein as a replacement for expensive soybean meal and fishmeal in poultry and pig diets is being spearheaded by the parent company of British poultry and pig compound feed manufacturer ABN, AB Agri.

The project involves entomologists, biochemists and nutritionists, combining the expertise within ABN with that of scientists at the Food and Environment Research Agency. Insect larvae will be grown on organic waste materials, then processed for use in animal feeds and initially evaluated in poultry. “With global protein supply currently struggling to keep up with worldwide demand, and protein prices sky-high this year as a result, there’s a real need to develop new, sustainable alternatives,” said ABN Technical Director Angela Booth. “This project is an exciting opportunity to see if the highly digestible protein in insect larvae could help meet that need. As a bonus, the organic waste substrate is reduced in mass by around 50 percent, and can be used as a valuable fertilizer.”

The aim is to have a viable pilot-scale production system up and running by the end of the three-year project, which is jointly funded by AB Agri and the Technology Strategy Board. In addition to overcoming the technical production challenges, a strong focus will be placed on evaluating the feed’s nutritional value and its suitability for use as an animal feed, especially in relation to consumer acceptability.