The benefits are considerable
Insects can grow extremely rapidly on food waste, and reducing soya in the ration helps both the environment and carbon footprint of the industry. Tesco has opened an innovation fund to reduce emissions and this includes animal feed, while Morrison’s is rolling out live insects as a supplement into their layer diets this year. Initial results have shown improved welfare as the birds become more interested in the insects. Feeding dead insects or insect powder will become more common. We will see small-scale producers wanting a modular and batch system, while larger vertically integrated farms may start their own insect sheds. At the same time and feed companies will start to compound in.
A rabbit into an elephant in 2 weeks
So how does it work? Growing insects is very similar to running a chicken shed, with the same systems of temperature control, feed and environment. The only difference is you have millions and millions of livestock… that are just tinier.
The most common insects used are black soldier flies, which Beta Bugs have specially bred for higher performance. They then supply the eggs, which hatch into larvae and grow rapidly from day 5 to 14, at which point they are ready to use. Insects are hugely efficient with a 5000–8000% increase in mass. It is like turning a rabbit into an elephant in two weeks.
Brewer’s grains to food waste
The feedstock is anything that can be fed to livestock; from brewers’ grains to dairy whey. But eventually it would make more sense to create a truly circular economy by using food waste or even manure. Food waste management companies are diversifying into insect farming as it becomes integrated into the supply chain, saving emissions from landfill.