Yeast probiotic improves yield

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WITH the probiotic, the total weight of the larvae increased by 12 percent.
WITH the probiotic, the total weight of the larvae increased by 12 percent.

Mealworms can serve as a sustainable source of protein. To improve the rearing of, for example, the yellow mealworm, the addition of a probiotic to the feed can be useful. This has been shown in a study by Phileo by Lesaffre.

Due to their favorable nutritional profile, potential health benefits and low environmental impact, yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor - YMW) are one of the most widely farmed insect species today. They have great potential to serve as a sustainable source of protein for human consumption and for various animal species. With the targeted increase in industrial production, improving YMW breeding practices and thus ensuring better zootechnical performance is becoming increasingly important.

Yeast probiotic improves yield

Yellow mealworm can be reared exclusively in wheat bran. The addition of yeast probiotics helps improve its growth performance and overall larval yield, helping farmers maximize productivity and secure financial returns for their farms.

"In recent years, yeast probiotics have been shown to help optimize the average daily growth of several species. In this context, Phileo by Lesaffre is already applying a rigorous scientific approach to select and demonstrate the benefits of yeast probiotics in several insect species, including YMW," says Jesús Gonzalez, Global Insect Manager at Phileo by Lesaffre. Extensive trials conducted in 2019 at Wageningen University in the Netherlands showed that Actisaf® SC47 can help promote YMW larval growth when the yeast probiotic is added to the feed substrate at a rate of 0.2% w/w.

Larvae gain weight

"The aim of the new study was to validate the performance of Actisaf® Sc47 in rearing substrates under industrial production conditions," explains Dr. Nadège Rchard, research manager at Phileo by Lesaffre. Two treatments, each with 10 replicates on 5.0 kg of wheat bran, were tested: (1) Actisaf® Sc47 at a concentration of 0.2% (2.2x107 CFU/g) and (2) an untreated control.

During the experiment, three substrate additions were made in Spain at ≈16% moisture at weeks 0, 4, and 12, and two extractions of frass were made at weeks 4 and 16. At the end of the rearing period, the total weight of fresh larvae (g) and the average weight of individual larvae (mg) were measured, and all frass was collected throughout the experiment.

Statistical significance was determined using a t-test with a p-value of 0.05 for the characteristics total larval fresh weight and total frass weight. Individual weight was calculated by taking a numerical average of the weights of one thousand larvae. Total larval weight increased by 12%, providing additional protein and oil yield to the farmer.

Frass as a valuable fertilizer

The total weight of the frass increased significantly. Frass consists of insect droppings that are stored by insect farmers and used as fertilizer, providing an additional 13% benefit to the YMW farmer. Frass fertilizer is also considered more environmentally friendly than conventional fertilizer and largely contributes to more sustainable horticulture.

The study shows that Actisaf® Sc47 can increase the zootechnical performance of YMW when added to the feed substrate at a rate of 0.2%. Phileo by Lesaffre is confident that these results can be replicated in other commercial YMW operations and will confirm the positive results, helping to transform the agricultural industry.

These data will be presented at INSECTINOV4 2022.