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Comparative protein quality in black soldier fly larvae meal, casein, soybean, and fishmeal using classical broiler chick assay

Cheng, V., L. Huber, A. Shoveller and E. Kiarie

Black soldier fly larvae meal (BSFLM) is a relatively new ingredient that has attracted attention for application in farm and companion animal nutrition. However, the biological value of BSFLM protein has yet not been investigated. Thus, we compared protein quality in BSFLM with soybean meal (SBM) and fishmeal (FM) using the classical broiler chick assay. A total of 240-male day-old Ross x Ross broiler chicks were fed a commercial starter diet for 14 days and subsequently allocated to six test diets in a randomized complete block design to achieve 8 replicates per diet and fed for 10 days. The corn starch-dextrose based diets were: 5 test diets containing 10% crude protein (CP) from casein (as a standard assay diet), SBM, FM or BSFLM without or with (BSFLM+) additional essential amino acids (arginine, lysine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan) to match the levels of the SBM diet on digestible basis.[GU1] A sixth diet was nitrogen-free (NFD) to enable calculation of net protein ratio (NPR). The birds had ad libitum access to feed and water, body weight (BW) and feed intake (FI) were recorded[GU2] [GU3] at the beginning and end of the experimental feeding period. Body weight gain (BWG), gain to feed ratio (G:F), crude protein intake (CPI), protein efficiency ratio (PER), and NPR were calculated. The data were analyzed using GLIMMIX procedure of SAS with diet as fixed factor. The analyzed CP (as fed) was 10.1, 7.3, 9.5, 11.7 and 14.9% for casein, SBM, FM, BSFLM and BSFLM+ diets, respectively.[GU4] Birds fed BSFLM+ had greater BWG (P<0.001) than birds fed other diets. Feed intake was greater (P<0.001) for birds fed BSFLM+ and FM diets than for the birds fed either NFD, casein, SBM and BSFLM diets. Thus, based on observed FI, BSFLM+ birds ate more CP (69.8 g/bird) vs. 38.3, 25.0, 48.3 and 46.3 g/bird for casein, SBM, FM and BSFLM birds, respectively, reflecting variation in FI and analyzed CP in test diets. Consequently, birds fed SBM exhibited superior (P<0.001) PER and NPR than birds fed other protein sources. The PER and NPR for BSFLM diets were similar (P>0.05) to those of casein and FM diets.

In conclusion, results of this study indicated that protein quality of BSFLM without or with additional EAA was comparable with casein and FM.