One of the essentials to a happy and healthy flock is looking after its nutritional requirements. Providing your birds with the right food not only adds to their health but also maximizes the benefits they provide to you.
Generally, chickens and other domestic fowl forage for insects. But if your chickens spend most of the time in their coop, or your garden doesn’t host many insects, you may want to introduce insects to your poultry feed.
An efficient way of doing so is by incorporating dried black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) into your birds’ feed or as an occasional treat. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the nutritional composition of BSF and why they are a great complement to your birds' diet.
What Does Black Soldier Fly Larvae contain?
Before we dive into the macro and micronutrients found in Black Soldier Fly Larvae, let us first have a look at what your backyard flock needs.
It’s All In The Nutrition
Just like us humans need a variety of nutrients, your feathery friends need them in optimum amounts as well. Two of the key nutrients which chickens need and BSFL supplies in ample quantities are protein and calcium.
Protein is composed of a chain of amino acids. These amino acids are crucial to the growth and long-term health of your chickens and ducks. Approximately 22 amino acids are required by your birds daily, with some of these being formed within their bodies, and others being obtained from their diet.
On the other hand, your birds need calcium to lay healthy, strong eggs. With a calcium-deficient diet, the eggs are likely to be soft and of low quality. Plus, the birds are more prone to diseases like rickets and osteoporosis (yes, your feathery friends can get these too!).
How Do BSF Larvae Help? - Nutrition Facts
Black Soldier Fly Larvae contain an ample amount of protein and calcium.
According to a study, BSF larvae can contain up to 50% protein (in the form of Crude Protein) and amino acids similar to those present in a fishmeal. Flock owners would know that’s quite a sizeable amount!
On top of that, they contain an ample amount of calcium. This is because of the calcium carbonate embedded within their skeletons.
But those are not the only nutrients within a BSFL. Here are some of the other important nutrients present and also why they are important for your feathery fellows.
Fat is needed by your birds to help dissolve fat-soluble vitamins. Examples include vitamin A and E. Also, fat makes chicken feed more appetizing.
Phosphorus helps chickens and ducks form a strong skeleton. Growing birds thus need it for their skeletal growth. Laying hens utilize it for egg production as well. It is important to note that BSF contains an optimal ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus. More isn't always better, but the balance of the two elements.
Magnesium is required for optimal growth and normal bodily functions. If your birds are magnesium-deficient, they may show symptoms including slow growth. In the worst-case scenario, a magnesium deficiency can kill them. Yikes!
An optimum amount of sodium will speed up the growth and appetite of your flock. Although many people incorporate this through salt, it is good for you to remember that BSF larvae also give your birds some sodium.
Your birds use iron to build haemoglobin. This helps red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to all body parts. Everyone knows how important oxygen is to animal health.
Zinc helps chickens and ducks form feathers and bones. Plus, it is important for enzymes and appetite control.
Your birds utilize copper to stop (or slow down) the growth of micro-organisms. This reduces the likelihood of contracting any diseases.
BSF larvae really are magical - one addition to the feed and so many benefits!
Should I use BSF larvae only if my chickens don’t get to eat enough insects?
BSF is a natural treat for domestic fowl, which is not used only as a substitute for insects. BSF larvae can be used simply to incorporate more calcium and protein into your backyard flock’s diet.
Do I have to make my own dried BSFL?
Although you can make your own dried BSFL using small-scale drying techniques, you can also purchase ready-made ones.
Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae is a natural and incredibly nutritious treat (something like what we refer to as a superfood). In addition, the proteins from the BSF have a full spectrum of amino acids since they are animal-derived, unlike soy or other feeds and treats. The nutritional information listed above will help you understand why BSF larvae are really worth the investment!