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Alberta insects destined for chicken feed

Alberta insects destined for chicken feed

A black soldier fly farm set to open in Balzac

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A 170,000 square-foot facility in Balzac, Alta. will be the breeding ground for insects that can be used as chicken feed.

B.C.’s Enterra Feed Corporation plans to open its Alberta facility by the end of the year, where it will produce billions of individual black soldier flies.

The microscopic larvae eat pre-consumer food waste for about three weeks until they’re full grown. The insects are then screened, harvested, dried and shipped whole.

Black soldier flies are “full of protein and fat and that makes them a super ideal feed ingredient for animals,” Victoria Leung, operations and marketing manager with Enterra, told the Calgary Eyeopener yesterday. “If you think about what a free-range chicken is searching for, … they’re searching for insects.”

Fish and pets could also eat the insects, she said.

Farmers that feed their animals black soldier flies appear to benefit, a 2017 study on the use of the insect as animal and human food found.

The study examined black solider fly digestion in pigs and poultry.

The insects can “reduce the mass and nutrient content of swine manure at efficiencies similar to poultry manure, with benefits for improved farm hygiene, reduced pest fly populations, and reduced nutrient pollution in runoff,” the study said.

A black soldier fly larva is about 42 per cent protein and 29 per cent fat, the study said.

Enterra’s product line includes an insect meal that can be used a soybean meal replacement, an insect oil and a horticulture fertilizer from the fly’s manure.

The company also wants to be part of a world where human insect consumption is normal.

“We would love to be able to feed our insects directly to people,” Leung told the Calgary Eyeopener. “We don’t think it’s that far-fetched, but for now we’re sticking to animal feed in North America.”

And if an Ontario farm is any example, people are already eating insects.

Entomo Farms in Norwood, Ont. provides Loblaws with cricket powder that’s sold under the President’s Choice brand.

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