Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Pasture poultry will forage in the field looking for a variety of different insects and worms. There has been some research showing that different insects are attracted to different crops and this will vary with the time of year.

A 2012 Australian study reviewed the potential of insects as poultry feed. The researchers concluded that locusts, fly larvae, crickets, and grasshoppers can be safely fed to chickens without adversely affecting the quality and palatability of the meat. Most of the studies, however, have looked at feeding a specific species of insect to chickens.

More recent research has started looking at rearing insects commercially for use as animal feed. This requires knowledge of insect rearing, feeding, and production methods, as well as food safety issues.

Commercial poultry production in the United States involves large quantities of soybeans and fishmeal. Insects have been investigated as replacements for these controversial feed ingredients. A 2014 review in Spain concluded that insects can be used as a sustainable protein-rich feed ingredient in diets is technically feasible and opens new perspectives in animal feed. Insects are also a means for recycling waste products that are potential pollutants.

Black soldier fly
Common housefly43-684-32
Yellow mealworm44-6923-47
Soybean meal (defatted)49-563

Black soldier fly



Khusro, M., N.R. Andrew, and A. Nicholas. 2012. Insects as poultry feed: a scoping study for poultry production system in Australia. World’s Poultry Science Journal 68:435-446.

Sanchez-Muros, M-J., F.G. Barroso, and F. Manzano-Agugliaro. 2014. Insect meal as renewable source of food for animal feeding: a review. Journal of Cleaner Production 65:16-27.

Veldkamp, T. and G. Bosch. 2015. Insects: a poultry-rich feed ingredient in pig and poultry diets. Animal Frontiers 5:42-50.

VeldKamp, T., G. van Duinkerken, A. van Huis, C.M.M. Lakemond, E. Ottevanger, G. Bosch, and M.A.J.S. van Boekel. 2012. Insects as sustainable feed ingredient in pig and poultry diets – a feasibility study. Published by Wageningen UR Livestock Research.