Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fly larvae could bring down the cost of poultry feed

A South African company, AgriProtein Technologies has developed a manufacturing process to produce fly larvae for use in poultry feed and other animal diets. The company is using slaughterhouse waste, animal manure and discarded food to grow the larvae, which are dried and ground into a powdered ingredient for monogastric animal feeds. AgriProtein says the product has a nutritional composition that is as good as fishmeal and better than soy - an increasingly expensive component of poultry feed.

Production by AgriProtein Technologies is relatively small scale at the moment. The company is currently producing two tonnes of larvae protein a week in its plant near Cape Town in South Africa, but is gearing up manufacturing capacity with the creation of two full scale production plants in Cape Town and Germany.

“We are passionate about expanding our business to recycle more waste nutrients and supply a natural protein to feed farm animals,” said Jason Drew of AgriProtein. The company recently won a $100,000 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), an award that was established by the African Innovation Foundation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to encourage innovative achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency or saving cost.

The company says that larvae are a natural food of chickens in the wild and fish in streams. “Their nutritional composition is as good as that of fishmeal and better than soya. As a natural food it has excellent take on and digestibility properties,” says the company. “The most impressive part of the process is nature. A single female fly will lay 750 eggs in under a week, which will hatch into larvae which grow in weight over 400 times in just a few days. Our plant and machinery are modular in design, enabling plants to be built to suit each location. Each production line can produce up to ten tonnes of larvae protein per day.”

Jason Drew says the company, which is based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, has spent nearly six years working out how to get billions of egg-laying flies and larvae to work together. AgriProtein has had interest from nearly 30 countries wanting to license the process. And as well as setting up full-scale factories, the company has also developed a smaller unit for rural areas where small-scale animal owners can recycle their waste. Jason Drew said it was taken for granted that society should recycle tin, plastic and paper. Within 10 years it would be considered normal to recycle waste nutrients.

Here at Freeranger Eggs, we have seen chooks eager to eat fly larvae whenever they come across them so we have no doubt that they could become a great food source.

The cost of feed has been a big issue for egg farmers, especially with the escalating cost of soya. Professor Louise Fresco of the University of Amsterdam told delegates at the International Egg Commission conference in Madrid in April, “There is a fantastic source of protein that we are not using and that is insects, insects in all kinds of forms.”


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