Amobi, M. I.
Ebenebe, C. I.
The dearth of animal protein due to high cost of fishmeal which serves as major source of protein and the limited amino acid profile of plant protein sources in feed formulation necessitates the use of edible insects as alternative and cheaper protein source for poultry feed formulation. This study investigates the effect of African palm weevil(Rhynchophorusphoenicis) larvae and winged termite (Macrotermesbellicosus)based meals on the performance (growth, linear body measurments, carcass quality and haematological characteristics); meat quality of broiler chicks (Arbor acre) and assessment of economic value of the formulated insect-based feeds. The study was carried out in a mini-poultry research station at Iyi–Enu, Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area, Anambra State. There were three dietary treatments comprising a standard feed (vital feed) which served as control designated as treatment I and two diets formulated based on African palm weevil larvae (APWL) and winged termites (WT) as treatments II and III respectively.One hundred and thirty-five day old birds of average weight of 46.98±0.28g – 50.00±0.12g were procured from CHI farms Ltd, Ibadan. The African palm weevil larvae (APWL) were mass produced using raffia palm logs for four months while winged termites (WT) were collected using light trapping method during rainy season for one month. Each dietary treatment had forty-five (45) birds with three replicates of fifteen (15) birds per replicate in a completely randomized design. The birds were randomly housed in a nine (9) pens demarcated with plywood. The birds were fed with the experimental diets throughout the experimental period of eight weeks during which time weekly weight, feed intake and linear body parameters were monitored. Blood samples were randomly taken from birds in each of the treatments at the 4th and 8th weeks and used for haematological analysis, while carcass and organ weight measurements were assessed at the end of the experiment; cost benefit of the insect-based diets were assessed given the current market price. The data collected on each of the parameters studied were separately subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the difference among the means were separated using least significant difference (LSD) at 95% confidence limit. The results obtained showed the birds performed better in treatments II and III than in treatment I. The statistical analysis of the growth performance in terms of weight gain showed significant difference (P<0.05) in favour of birds subjected to treatment II (2153.87±8.60g) as against that of treatments III (1996.23±15.32g) and I (1557.98±10.24g); feed intake showed a significant difference in favour of birds on dietary treatment II (2712.87±134.21g) to those on treatment III (2745.66±140.10g) and treatment I (2818.82±196.42g); feed conversion ratio (FCR) were significantly difference (P<0.05) among the dietary treatments I, II and III (1.809, 1.259 and 1.375) respectively and feed efficiency ratio (FER) also showed significant difference among the dietary treatments I, II and III (0.552, 0.794 and 0.727) respectively. There was a significant difference for linear body measurements among the dietary treatments(P<0.05). Carcass weight measurement showed a significant difference (P<0.05). Numerical values for carcass weight of birds subjected to treatment I are 1526.47±40.23g for defeathered weight and 1240.30±64.53g for eviscerated weight; those on treatment II are 2187.74±62.72g for defeathered weight and 1788.93±70.70g for eviscerated weight; treatment III are 2015.83±74.62g for defeathered weight and 1466.97±100.05g for eviscerated weight. Haematological characteristics showed a significant difference (P<0.05) in terms of PCV: the mean value for PCV of birds on treatments I, II and III are 26.33±1.53%, 36.00±1.00% and 35.00±1.00% respectively. The proximate composition of broiler meat from the experimental chickens showed a significant difference (P<0.05) in crude protein in favour of meat from treatments II and III (34.15±4.12% and 30.96±3.25%) respectively as against that of treatment I (11.20±2.22%). The result showed that the production of insect-based feeds are highly cheaper (N2,619.79k and N2,497.06k for APWL based 25kg bag of starter and finisher feeds respectively; N2,796.90k and N2,638.75k for WT based 25kg bag of starter and finisher feeds respectively) than already conventional feed (N3,350 and N3,400 for 25kg bag of starter and finisher feeds respectively). This study has shown that insects are rich ingredients in poultry feeds and there are great opportunities in its use as a major source of protein in poultry feed in order to reduce cost of poultry production and equally achieve high quality broiler meat.Therefore, establishment of insect farms is highly recommended to produce the quantity that will meet the demands of livestock feed industries.