1. Insects – A Natural Nutrient Source for Poultry – A Review

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The consumption of poultry meat and eggs is expected to increase considerably in the nearest future, which creates the demand for new poultry feed ingredients in order to support sustainable intensive production. Moreover, the constant improvement of the genetic potential of poultry has resulted in an increased nutrient density in poultry feeds, which limits the possibility to include low quality feed ingredients. Therefore, the feed industry needs new sources of highly digestible protein with a desirable amino acid composition to substitute other valuable but limited protein sources of animal origin, such as fishmeal. With estimated 1.5 to 3 million species, the class of insects harbours the largest species variety in the world including species providing a high protein and sulphur amino acids content, which can be successfully exploited as feed for poultry. The aim of this paper is to review the present state of knowledge concerning the use of insect protein in poultry nutrition and the possibilities of mass production of insects for the feed industry. There is no doubt that insects have an enormous potential as a source of nutrients (protein) and active substances (polyunsaturated fatty acids, antimicrobial peptides) for poultry. It can be concluded, based on many experimental results, that meals from insects being members of the orders Diptera (black soldier fly, housefly), Coleoptera (mealworms) and Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locust, crickets and katylids), may be successfully used as feed material in poultry diets. However, legislation barriers in the European Union, as well as relatively high costs and limited quantity of produced insects are restrictions in the large-scale use of insect meals in poultry nutrition.

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