EARTHWORM MEAL: A NOVEL NON-CONVENTIONAL FEED INGREDIENT FOR SUSTAINABLE POULTRY PRODUCTION
Keywords:Earthworm meal, soybean meal, fish meal, poultry
The poultry industry is one of the most important/vibrant sectors in the livestock industry. Feed economics is highly important in the production of poultry, especially in intensive farming. Protein intake is the key factor for the sustainable production process and growth rates. Mainly soybean and fish meal is used to fulfill the protein requirements in poultry feed, however, currently, soybean meal and other conventional protein ingredients are facing the problem of shortage supply resultantly increasing in prices. So, there is an urgent need to explore other alternatives and cheaper protein sources. In the past 20 years, amongst different alternative protein sources, private companies and research institutes have focused on the use of algae, insects, and other invertebrates in poultry diets whereas particular attention needs to be paid to the dietary use of earthworms as it is a
good and palatable source of protein. Earthworms can be successfully used as an alternative protein source for poultry and aquaculture as an environmentally friendly protein feed ingredient. In this review, we summarize the suitability, productivity, and effectiveness of earthworm meals as an alternative protein ingredient in poultry diets The research has investigated the use of earthworm meal in fish and poultry feed and exhibited an increase in body weight, feed conversion ratio, feed intake, and growth rates in broilers as well as an increase in egg production in layers. The research has shown dietary inclusion level of earthworm meal in the fish diet is successfully up to 25-30% whilst its inclusion level in the broiler diet should not go beyond 15%. Supplementation of earthworm meals in broiler and aquaculture diets may trigger production performances without affecting the quality of the final product. The goal of this review is to deliver the recent scenario of research on earthworm meal; to offer a better understanding of its use as a novel feed ingredient for sustainable poultry production.
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