Productive performance and blood profiles of laying hens fedHermetia illucenslarvae meal as total replacement of soybean meal from 24 to 45 weeks of age
The aim of the research was to study the effects of an insect meal from Hermetia illucens larvae (HILM) as complete replacement of soybean meal (SBM) on productive performance and blood profiles of laying hens, from 24 to 45 wk of age. A total of 108 24-week-old Lohmann Brown Classic laying hens was equally divided into 2 groups (54 hens/group, 9 replicates of 6 hens/group). From 24 to 45 wk of age, the groups were fed 2 different isoproteic and isoenergetic diets: the control group (SBM) was fed a corn-soybean meal based diet, while in the HILM group the soybean meal was completely replaced by Hermetia illucens larvae meal. Feed intake, number of eggs produced, and egg weight were recorded weekly along the trial. At 45 wk of age, blood samples were collected from 2 hens per replicate. The use of HIML led to a more favorable (P < 0.01) feed conversion ratio in hens but lay percentage, feed intake, average egg weight, and egg mass were higher (P < 0.01) in hens fed the SBM diet. Hens fed insect meal produced a higher percentage of eggs from small (S), medium (M), and extra-large (XL) classes (P < 0.01) than SBM, while the SBM group had a higher percentage of eggs from the large (L) class (P < 0.01). The levels of globulin and albumin to globulin ratio were, respectively, higher and lower (P < 0.05) in HILM than the SBM group. Cholesterol and triglycerides were higher (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively) in hens from SBM than in the HILM group. Blood levels of Ca were higher (P < 0.01) in hens fed insect meal, while creatinine was higher (P < 0.01) in blood of hens fed SBM. Hermetia illucens larvae meal can be a suitable alternative protein source for laying hens even if the complete replacement of soybean meal needs further investigation to avoid the negative effects on feed intake.