Subject:   use of Insects as Poultry feed

+++++From Manuel Sanchez 
Comments on the use of insects as poultry feed

In order to answer the question of Andrew Speedy on the production of
insect larvae for poultry, I can give the example of the activities which
have been promoted by the FAO project in Honduras in support of Rural Women
(GCP/HON/017/NET). Apart from the support given to womens' organizations,
the project is using rural poultry production as the main activity to
increase income generation and to improve nutritional standards.
(snip)............ And what better than earth worms, insect larvae and
termites. Insect larvae are produced with kitchen and vegetable residues
placed in a set place to decompose where the various insects come to lay
their eggs. Termites are not only collected from nature, but they are also
kept near the house in order to gradually take some slices off to feed the
chicks. There are even attempts to feed the termites with branches of the
trees they use to eat (Francisco Oviedo, Honduras, personal communication).

There is certainly a need to do research in the culture of insects such as
cockroaches and termites, both of which have the unique ability of
digesting cellulose and synthesizing essential amino acids from non-protein
nitrogen. In fact, we are now looking for a researcher who would be
interested in this subject.

In some countries in West Africa they already have a primitive way of
rearing termites on crop residues (on inverted clay pots or baskets) for
poultry supplementation. These practices should be well documented and
expanded to other regions.

Concerning the use of insects and other invertebrates as feed, useful
information, such as short communications and literature reviews, is
available in the Semestrial Bulletin of Information on Mini-Livestock
edited by Prof. Honor. Dr. Ir. J. Hardouin (BEDIM, c/o Unite d'enseignement
et de Recherche en Zoologie Generale et Appliquee, Faculte Universitaire
des Sciences Agronomiques, 2 Passage des deportes, B-5030 Gembloux,

In this bulletin, the following reference was quoted:
Ravindran V. and Blair R., 1993. Feed resources for poultry production in
Asia and the Pacific. III. Animal protein sources. World's Poultry Science
Journal, 49, 219-235. This paper gives some information on the nutritive
value of locusts, crickets, termites and other insects as adults, larvae or
pupae as source of protein for poultry.

In Volume 1, No 2, 1992 of this bulletin, some information is also given on
termites as feed: it reports on the traditional use in many developing
countries to supply day-old chickens or guinea fowls with termites and it
is even reported that in Togo termites are bred for this purpose.

++++++++From Aichi Kitalyi 
FAO Andre Mayer Research Fellow (AGAH).

Comments on feed resources for scavenging poultry in the villages of Africa


Little has been done on the scavenging feed resource for village chickens
in Africa. This area was forgotten because most poultry scientists wanted
all chickens to be fed concentrates or grain based diets for higher
production per bird. However, to-date 80 - 100 % of the daily ration of the
scavenging poultry is derived from the scavenging feed resource.


Ravindran and Blair (1993) give an in-depth review of animal protein
sources for poultry which include the invertebrates. The review which has
122 refs. gives the chemical composition of the different sources
including, insect meals (housefly larvae, housefly pupae, soldier fly
pupae, silk worm pupae, bee, Mormon cricket and grasshoppers). Other
sources included in the review are termites, earthworm and snail meals. The
review is very interesting because it also gives some harvesting

Farina et al., 1991, reported on research on production of termites in
villages in Togo. The harvesting technique is as follows: a hole in the
termitary is covered with an earthware pot filled with moistened fibrous
waste and protected against excessive heat and desiccation. Termite larvae
develop in the humid atmosphere and are collected after 3 to 4 weeks. In
field visits to Gambia and Zimbabwe, a few farmers indicated that they
collect termites for their chickens.

No doubt the population of the invertebrates in the soil can be manipulated
by changing the physical and chemical composition of the soil. This is
shown by Alvaro Ocampo's contribution to this electronic conference. There
is increased access of invertebrate food to scavenging chickens in
agro-pastoral systems as you find the chickens scavenging this in the
kraals, bomas or any piles of manure. The worm cultivation for fishing in
Zimbabwe is another indication of possibility of introducing such
technology for scavenging poultry.

Farina, L., Demey F. and Hardouin, J. 1991. Production de termites pour
l'aviculture villageoise au Togo. Tropicultura, 9, 4, 181-187.

Gunaratne, S.P., Chandrasin, A.D.N., Mangalika Hemalatha, W.A.P. 1993. Feed
resources base for scavenging village chickens in Sri Lanka. Tropical
Animal Health Production. 25. 249-257.

Ocampo, A. 1996. The African oil palm in integrated farming systems in
Colombia: new developments. Eight Paper, FAO Electronic Conference on
Livestock Feed Resources within Integrated Farming Systems.

Ravindran, V. and Blair, R. 1993. Feed Resources for poultry production in
Asia and the Pacific. !!!. Animal Protein sources. World's Poultry Science
Journal, Vol. 49, November 1993. 219 - 235

Roberts, J.A. 1995 Assessing the scavenging feed resource base for
sustainable smallholder poultry development. Draft. Department of
Biomedical and Tropical Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University,

Tadelle, D. and Ogle, B. 1996a. A survey of village poultry production in
the central highlands of Ethiopia. Msc. Thesis, Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences.

Tadelle, D. and Ogle, B. 1996b. Nutritional status of village poultry in
the central highlands. A survey of village poultry production in the
central highlands of Ethiopia. Msc. Thesis, Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences.

+++++From Rena Perez <> Cuba

Comment on feeding poultry with earthworms

1) Many years ago a Cuban ambassador to the Philippines told me an
interesting tale about how a small-scale, near-Manila, farmer fed his
chickens. The farmer had three plots of earthworms and morning and night he
simply opened the gate and let his 20-30 chickens into the area to fend for

2) Several years ago while visiting CIPAV in Cali, Colombia, I was taken to
the sugarcane/animal farm of Didimo Guzman some 2000 metres up in the
mountains. Didimo produced earthworms on cattle dung and fed his 30-40
chickens on cane juice, Trichanthera gigantea forage and 3 wheelbarrows of
digested cattle dung/worms/humus, which he simply dumped on the earthen
floor of the chicken yard. The chickens devoured the worms and at the same
time their pecking and scratching dried out the humus which he collected
daily for use as organic fertilizer for planting sugarcane.

++++++From Rene Branckaert 

Comments on feeding poultry with earthworms and on scavenging poultry and
pest control

1/ Feeding poultry with earthworms:

Various experiments have been conducted on the use of earthworms for
feeding poultry, especially in Benin (see Vorsters) and in the Philippines
(see Barcelo and Barcelo, University of La Union). Most results were
disappointing: the reason is that earthworms are intermediate hosts for
Cestodes, like Davainea or Railletina.

Two possibilities:
 - To kill and dry the earthworms before using them as feed.
 - To deworm poultry on a regular basis.