How Fly Farming Could Be the Next Big Thing in Animal Feed Production

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Black Fly and Maggot Farming in Africa

Animal farmers are currently facing rising feed costs.

 The cost of animal feed is a significant portion of your budget as a livestock farmer.  In times of drought,  we are currently experiencing in Zimbabwe, they are shortages of grains (maize and soy) used in livestock feed.

Input suppliers, therefore, need to import maize and soy at high prices to make up for the shortfall. This makes feed expensive and out of the reach of most current and would-be livestock farmers.

 However, feeding your animals (such as chickens and fish) doesn't need to be expensive.

Enter insect farming for feed...

Insects are one way that animal feed can be more accessible and affordable for emerging farmers. Around the world, farmers and researchers are looking at insect farming as a way to supplement or replace grains and fishmeal in animal feed.

Insects can be produced year-round especially in our temperate climate. They require less land and 90% less water than grains to produce a sustainable and cheaper protein. Bugs and insect larvae are also what chickens naturally eat, just watch any road runner{pasture-raised chickens} they are likely scratching for fly larvae or bugs.

Farming Black Soldier Flies

Seven years ago, South African entrepreneur and author Jason Drew, decided to recycle food waste from local restaurants and companies to commercially breed black soldier flies. He built a complex in Stellenbosch, South Africa that breeds one million black soldier flies. {source}

The flies breed and lay eggs which hatch into larvae. The larvae are fed slaughterhouse blood until they reach an optimal size for harvesting. They are then separated from the waste which is dried and ground into high protein feed for chicken and fish farmers. The process of learning to breed black soldier flies commercially took Jason Drew a lot of trial and error. After about 5years of research and trials his company, Agriprotein released its Magmeal, a maggot-based animal feed for the local and export market.

Locally, Zimbabwe Earthworm Farms founder Ephraim Whingwiri recently shared that his company had begun breeding maggots, drying and mixing them with maize meal to produce livestock feed for the local market.

I first learned about black soldier fly farming when I visited Growing Power Farm in Milwaukee. They had just started breeding flies in a hoop house and hadn't yet started using it for supplemental poultry feed.

Are you animal farming? How are you making ends meet with rising feed costs? What are your thoughts on breeding black larvae flies for livestock feed?

I have to admit that it does make my turn my stomach, but I can also see the value of  a cheaper and resource efficient feed.

Happy farming!

{Photo source: Flickr)

Disclaimer: while Emerging Farmer does everything to ensure the accuracy of our guides, it is important to contact an agronomist or your Agritex officer for accurate recommendations for your farm. Emerging farmer takes no responsibility for any losses or damage incurred due to information in this guide.


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