Black Soldier Flies Improve Chicken Health

Adding a supplement derived from black soldier flies to chicken feed significantly improved gut health and productivity of laying hens. This is not surprising because insects are a part of their natural diet. Therefore, incorporating insect components into chicken feed is a biologically sound approach.

Al Anas, M., Aprianto, M.A., Akit, H., Kurniawati, A. and Hanim, C., 2024. Black soldier fly larvae oil (Hermetia illucens L.) calcium salt enhances intestinal morphology and barrier function in laying hens. Poultry Science, 103777.

This study aimed to determine the influence of black soldier fly larvae oil calcium salt (BSFLO-SCa) supplementation on jejunal histomorphology and gene expression of tight junctions and inflammatory cytokines. A total of 60 ISA Brown laying hens (40 wk of age) were divided into three treatment groups, including a control group fed a basal diet (T0) and basal diets supplemented with 1% (T1) and 2% (T2) of BSFLO-SCa. Each treatment group consisted of 5 replicates with 4 laying hens each. Results showed that 1% and 2% BSFLO-SCa supplementation significantly reduced (P < 0.05) feed conversion ratio (FCR), while egg weight (EW) increased (P < 0.05). The inclusion with 2% increased (P < 0.05) both egg production (HDA) and mass (EM). The addition of 1% and 2% BSFLO-SCa significantly increased (P < 0.05) villus height (VH) and villus width (VW), while crypt depth (CD) significantly increased (P < 0.05) with 2% BSFLO-SCa. The tight junction and gene expression of claudin-1 (CLDN-1), junctional adhesion molecules-2 (JAM-2), and occludin (OCLN) were significantly upregulated (P < 0.05) with 2% BSFLO-SCa. The pro-inflammatory cytokines and gene expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) was significantly downregulated (P < 0.05) with the addition of BSFLO-SCa, while gene expression of interleukin-18 (IL-18), toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were downregulated with 2% BSFLO-SCa. On the other hand, the anti-inflammatory cytokines and gene expression of interleukin-13 (IL-13) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) were significantly upregulated (P < 0.05) at 2% BSFLO-SCa. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with 2% BSFLO-SCa improved productivity, intestinal morphology and integrity by upregulating tight junction-related protein of gene expression of laying hens. In addition, supplementation with BSFLO-SCa enhanced intestinal immune responses by upregulating anti-inflammatory and downregulating pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression.