Pigs and broilers can only grow up healthily if they are given optimal diets. Protein supply in particular plays an outstanding role here. In Germany a large share of feed protein comes from soya imports.

Scientists at the University of Göttingen are currently researching whether and how soya can be replaced by insect or algae meals. Initial results have shown that the animals willingly accept the new feed and can metabolise it well.

The scientists replace 50 to 100% of the soybean meal in the broiler and pig feed with partly degreased meal made from the larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetica illucens) or meal made from the blue-green microalgae (Spirulina platensis).

“From the nutritional standpoint, both alternative protein sources are fundamentally suitable for replacing a large part of the imported soya in feed for broilers and pigs”, explain Susanne Velten and Carmen Neumann from the Division of Animal Nutrition Physiology. “Now we want to analyse the acceptance of the feed, its nutrient digestibility and protein quality precisely”.

In addition, the researchers want to find out how far the protein quality can be improved by supplementing it with individual feed amino acids.

Algae proteins have been authorised for use in animal feeds already since 2001, but in the European Union insect proteins have so far only been authorised for use in fish feed. The trials are part of the project “Sustainability Transitions in food production: alternative protein sources from a socio-technical perspective”.