Poultrynsect project is developed by experts with skills in agronomy, animal nutrition, chemistry, ecology, entomology, sensorial and veterinary sciences, which have a well consolidated background of experience in studies carried out on the utilization of edible insects in feed and food applications. The combined use of traditional and innovative (omics) methodologies ensure to provide adequate answers to the call challenges.
The project will be organized in 4 scientific Work Packages (WPs) (1-4) and 2 extra WPs for results communication & dissemination (5) and coordination and project management (6) as summarized below.
WP1: Optimization of HI rearing protocols
- to adjust the required nutritional composition of the HI-larvae and rearing protocol based on the nutritional needs of chickens;
- to formulate and define specific diets for HI larvae, reared for slow growing chickens, with residual streams based on objective 1;
- to assess agronomic possibilities of frass via plant growth trials;
- to deliver live HI larvae for feeding trials in WP2;
All larvae rearing cycles planned in WP1 are performed using 6-day-old larvae produced with the established insect colony present in INAGRO facility.
The HI larvae rearing is performed using a climate chamber (20 m2) under controlled environmental conditions. Besides controlled temperature (27 ± 0.5°C) and relative humidity (70 ± 5%), the climate chamber also allows to control ventilation in order to provide oxygen, remove CO2 and avoid heat accumulation.
WP2: Chickens in vivo feeding trials
- to perform in vivo poultry feeding trial to determine the optimal supplementation level of live HI larvae for organic chicken production
- to assess the gender effect on performances, welfare and health of birds fed live insect larvae
- to assess in two different genotypes model (with different growing-rate) the effect on performances, welfare and health of birds fed live insect larvae.
Two in vivo experimental trials are planned in the first and second year of the project, respectively. Bird handling will be in accordance with the guidelines for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching. For each trial, a total of 180 male and 180 female chickens are reared at the Animal Facility Centre of the UNITO partner. An intermediate slow-growing breed (Sasso) chicken is used in the first trial, while a slow-growing Italian (Bianca di Saluzzo, BS, protected by Slow Food trade) breed will be used in the second trial.
Both breeds are suitable for outdoor raising of organic chicken and characterized by different growth rates and nutritional requirements. In both trials the birds are reared separated by sex in order to study the different growth pattern and behavior due to larvae supplementation. The chickens will be allotted according to sex and treatment in 4 groups (15 birds/pen, 90 birds/treatment) and fed with SBM control diet:
- without HI larvae (control male group);
- supplemented with live HI larvae (treated male group);
- without HI larvae (control female group);
- supplemented with live HI larvae (treated female group).
Sasso birds will be individually weighed on d 20, 40, 60, 84 of age while the BS birds on d 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 of age. The growth performance (feed intake, body weight gain, feed conversion ratio) and the mortality will be recorded. Moreover, the welfare status (in situ behaviour observations) will be evaluated by means of video recording cameras. At the end of the trial footpad dermatitis scores and slaughtering performances will be recorded also.
WP3: Laboratory & Sensorial Analyses
- To assess the impact of different feeding regimes on chicken health and meat quality
- to deepen the understanding of how feed and animal welfare affect muscle protein composition and fillet nutritional quality.
The health and welfare status of the chickens will be evaluated by histological and immuno-histochemical investigations. Chicken breast fillets quality parameters (colour, water binding capacity, pH, instrumental tenderness) will be determined. Sensory attributes including tenderness, juiciness and flavour will be evaluated by the sensory panel at CNR. On-line NIR-technology will be applied to screen for muscle abnormalities (wooden breast) and estimate macronutrient composition in chicken breast fillets.
More detailed analysis of macro- and micronutrient composition including fatty acid profiles will be conducted on a subsample. Proteomic techniques will be used to assess changes in muscle protein composition and degradation, as affected by the feed type. Nutritional quality of chicken breast fillet will be further assessed by determining their in vitro protein digestibility and amino acid composition.
WP4: Integrated sustainability assessments
Quantitative and qualitative comparisons for the possibilities of innovative production concepts of the new types of protein sources for organic poultry feed will be performed. Specific multicriteria assessment frameworks will be applied: i) flows of nutrients, energy, degrees of recycling, conversion efficiency; ii) socio-economic performance and capacity to answer local issues regarding rural development. These integrated assessment approaches will be complementary to quantitative approaches such as life cycle assessment (LCA). LCAs evaluating innovative feed components and formulations will be performed on the sustainability impact criteria to be applied in comparison to common equivalent feed formulations: i) environmental (global warming, water and energy consumption, soil quality/fertility and biodiversity) ii) economic (gross margin, including total sales receipts, changes of stocks and direct payments) iii) social (number of jobs and working hours). In a final stage, it will be integrated via multi-objective optimization for the definition of integrated optimal production scenario.
WP5: Communication and Dissemination
A variety of communication activities (targeted press-releases, thematic workshops organized for stakeholders, scientific publications and participation in international congresses) will be promoted to target groups and to the general public, according to the vision and objectives of this call. Knowledge management and protection will be an integral part of the project. Detailed knowledge management and protection guidelines will define the framework and practical actions for the management and protection of the generated knowledge.
The objectives of this WP are:
- to coordinate and manage the overall development of the project;
- to define the project workplan strategies and ensure the compliance with the work program time schedules;
- to coordinate and supervise the project research and innovation activities;
- to carry out the overall administrative and financial management and reporting of the project;
- to organize partner meetings.
The Risks identified and the Contingency measures planned are summarized below.
The partners within this consortium participating in relevant organizations projects at European level, in particular UNITO, DIL and INAGRO participate in the active H2020-project ‘SUSICHAIN’. Within this project communication and interaction will be key. First of all, in T1.1 the insect rearing protocol needs to be adjusted based on the needs of chickens (WP2; UNITO), furthermore the assessments of WP4 (DIL) are essential for the tasks within WP1, of which T 1.3 that will make the larvae for the other WP’s available. Moreover, NOFIMA and CNR will closely collaborate on the WP3 (T 3.3) on meat quality and sensory assessment. Finally, all partners will give input and contribute to communication and dissemination of project results with the aim to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the topic of ‘organic insects’ via our network.