Nutrient and AA digestibility of black soldier fly larvae differing in age using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay

Sungho Do, Liz Koutsos, Pamela L. Utterback, Carl M. Parsons, Maria R.C. De Godoy, Kelly S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Edible insects such as black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are alternative protein sources for animal feeds due to their high-protein content and potential low environmental footprint. However, protein quality and AA content may vary across insect species and age. Our objective was to determine the effects of age on nutrient and AA digestibility of BSFL intended for use in pet foods using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay. All animal procedures were approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee prior to experimentation. Twenty-four cecectomized roosters (four roosters per substrate) were randomly assigned to test substrates [BSFL0 = day 0 (day of hatch); BSFL11 = day 11; BSFL14 = day 14; BSFL18 = day 18; BSFL23 = day 23; BSFL29 = day 29]. After 24 h of feed withdrawal, roosters were tube-fed 20 g of test substrates. Following crop intubation, excreta were collected for 48 h. Endogenous corrections for AA were made using five additional cecectomized roosters. All data were analyzed using a completely randomized design and the GLM procedure of SAS 9.4. DM and OM digestibilities were not different among substrates, but acid-hydrolyzed fat digestibility tended to be greater (P < 0.10) for BSFL23 and BSFL29 than BSFL14 and BSFL18. Although all substrates had a high digestibility, BSFL0 and BSFL11 had the lowest (P < 0.05) digestibilities for most indispensable and dispensable AA. Digestible indispensable AA score (DIAAS)-like values were calculated to determine protein quality according to AAFCO nutrient profiles and NRC recommended allowances for dogs and cats. In general, BSFL18 had the highest, and BSFL11 had the lowest DIAAS-like values for most indispensable AA. Threonine, methionine, and tryptophan were often the first-limiting AA. Our results suggest that BSFL are a high-quality protein and AA source, but that age can affect the AA digestibility and protein quality of this alternative protein source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskz363
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • AA digestion
  • cat
  • dog
  • insect meal
  • pet food
  • protein source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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