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Sustainable feed? Also from fly larvae

Cnr-Unitorino project for the breeding of organic chickens

The Poultrynsect project, coordinated by the Institute of Food Production Sciences of the National Research Council, in partnership with researchers and professors from the Departments of Veterinary Sciences and Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences of the University of Turin, has won the joint international tender Era-Net SusFood2 and Core Organic, intended for research programs that had as their main focus eco-sustainable food systems. The three-year project envisages the use of live black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) in the feeding of broilers in organic farming, as a partial replacement of the protein provided by conventional protein sources such as soybean meal, legume mostly imported from the American continent.

Poultrynsect, developed in collaboration with scientists with expertise in agronomy, poultry nutrition, entomology, veterinary food sciences affiliated to institutions of research bodies and universities of 4 European nations (Belgium, Germany, Italy and Norway), aims to evaluate the effect of innovative feed ingredients (live insect larvae) for slow-growing organic chickens in order to enable sustainable meat production, improve animal welfare and meet the potential consumer demand for healthier, tastier and more natural meat products.

The insect larvae will be reared on biological waste substrates, allowing the valorisation of waste materials produced in excess by food industries. During the project, both Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Cost analyzes will be carried out to define the economic effects of these innovative productions, as well as strategic research focused on sensory sciences aimed at defining the eating habits, expectations and preferences of consumers. Finally, the efficacy of live insect larvae will be evaluated for their potential in improving growth performance, animal welfare, intestinal microbiota and immune system of slow-growing organic chickens.

The team of the University of Turin, coordinated by prof. Achille Schiavone, professor of nutrition and animal nutrition at the veterinary science department, also sees the participation of Prof. Laura Gasco and Dr. Ilaria Biasato and Manuela Renna. The research group, which for years has been involved in the breeding of insects and the use of insect meal for feeding various species of zootechnical interest, will have the task of carrying out tests at the experimental center frati di Carmagnola in vivo feeding using intermediate and slow growing chickens, in order to determine the optimal level of inclusion of live larvae for organic chicken production. The live larvae used in the feeding tests will be provided by the Belgian partner Inagro Vzw with European-recognized entomological expertise in insect breeding. The German team of the German Institute of Food Technologies (Dil) will have the task of evaluating the environmental, economic and social sustainability of replacing soybeans with insect larvae, while the Norwegian team of Nofima As will carry out the chemical-physical analyzes on the meat poultry in order to determine their quality. The Cnr will coordinate the entire project under the supervision of the scientific director, Dr. Francesco Gai , researcher at the institute of science of food production.

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EFA News - European Food Agency