Earthworms as alternative protein source for broiler chickens?

26. January 2021
A picture of the first part of the article
Makerere University and TU Wien published an open access article as a result of collaborative research within the APPEAR project CapNex.

The APPEAR project Capacity building on the water-energy-food security Nexus through research and training in Kenya and Uganda | CapNex addressed the interrelations between water, food and energy. The interdisciplinary project team of Austrian, Kenyan, and Ugandan researchers focused on the enhancement of research methods and capacities and jointly conducted research on selected case studies.

Project team members from Makerere University and TU Wien have now published the fourth open access article resulting from the APPEAR collaboration:

Naluga, A., Komakech, A.J., JJagwe, J., Magala, H., Lederer, J. Growth characteristics and meat quality of broiler chickens fed earthworm meal from Eudrilus eugeniae as a protein source. Livestock Science Volume 245, March 2021, Elsevier.

Open access

Abstract of the article:

The demand and cost of animal-based protein sources for broiler chickens production like fish meal has increased in many countries. An alternative protein source can be earthworm meal (EWM). A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of supplementing broiler chickens diets with EWM derived from dried Eudrilus eugeniae on growth performance, carcass attributes, and the meat quality of broiler chickens. The starter and finisher basal diets were formulated to contain 10% fish meal and it was replaced with 0, 1, 3, 5, and 7% EWM. For the experiment, 150 one-day-old broiler chickens were randomly assigned to the 5 diets with 3 pens per diet and 10 broiler chickens per pen. Based on the data recorded in the experiment, the body weight gain (BWG), and the feed intake (FI) were computed. At 6 wk of age, 3 broiler chickens were randomly selected from each pen to assess their organ weights and sensory characteristics. Overall, there was a quadratic and cubic effect on BWG when EWM supplementation was increased (P < 0.05). There was no difference in the overall FI of broiler chickens with increase in the supplementation of EWM. As the dietary supplementation of EWM increased, the juiciness in breast meat of the broiler chickens increased quadratically (P < 0.05) while the flavor increased linearly (P < 0.05). However, there were no differences in broiler chickens meat aroma, first bite, chewiness, and the amount of residues as dietary EWM increased. Supplementation of EWM did not affect broiler chickens meat quality in terms of pH and drip loss. The EWM may be a suitable source of protein for broiler chickens production and a particularly useful substitute for fish meal. More research is required to determine the optimal inclusion rate for the most affordable, and nutritious broiler chickens diet, and to sufficiently understand the wider implications of alternative feed sources on the ecologic, economic, and environmental impact of broiler chickens production.

List of all CapNex publications