Updated: Jan 8
Picture Source: Better Origin
As a pet chicken owner, you may be considering adding insects to your chickens' diet as a way to provide them with additional protein and nutrients. However, if you are wondering about the benefits of feeding your flock with insects, you may check out our previous blog post here! In fact, insects are becoming widely accepted by organic chicken farms in Europe with insect companies such as Better Origin serving these markets.
Back to the topic of today - Insects can be a nutritious and environmentally friendly source of protein, but it's important to choose high-quality insects and to be aware of potential risks. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when buying insects for your pet chickens:
1. Quality: Make sure the insects you are buying are of good quality and have been raised in a clean environment. Avoid insects that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals, as these can be harmful to your chickens. You may also want to find out what the insects have been fed on to avoid having any leftover substrate causing health complications for your flock.
2. Supplier/Country of Origin: One easy way to determine all the above is to find out where the insects have been raised. I generally would only go for producers that clearly show the country of origin as they give an indication of the production standards. As an example, Dried Mealworms produced by Werms Inc. and Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae at Insect Feed Technologies have gone through stringent production standards by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) before being approved for sale. This includes only uncontaminated food manufacturing by-products to be used to feed the insects and having to go through periodic testing for harmful bacteria such as E.Coli and Enterobacteriaceae. An example is shown below.
On the other hand, there is an abundance of resellers that simply do not put up any information on where the insects were produced. While you technically need a NParks license to sell insects as pet feed, the key issue is that you do not even know what the insects are being fed on and the risks involved! I would definitely not want to risk it with my pet chickens. Here's an example of an online reseller that I would think twice about. I would probably clarify and seek any certificates and licenses if any, and avoid if it were produced in China.
3. Nutritional value: Choose insects that are high in protein and other nutrients to help ensure that your chickens are getting the nutrition they need. It's generally best to feed young, juvenile insects to your chickens, as they are more nutritionally dense than older insects. As a guideline, you should choose insects with at least a 40% protein and 25% fat content.
4. Quantity: Make sure you have enough insects to meet the needs of your chickens without going broke. You would want to get the most value out of the product you are buying. In general, as long as you are buying insects from overseas, it should be affordable. Also, it's generally recommended to feed insects as a supplement to a balanced diet, rather than relying on them as the primary source of nutrition.
5. Storage: Pay attention to how the insects are stored and handled. They should be properly dried, packaged and kept in bags to prevent spoilage.
By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your pet chickens are getting the nutrition they need while minimizing the risk of any potential problems. Adding insects to your chickens' diet can be a great way to provide them with a varied and nutritious diet, but it's important to be thoughtful and cautious when choosing and feeding insects to your pets.