Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Peter Newton

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Nancy Emery


This thesis describes a research experiment examining the potential of Black Soldier Fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) (Diptera: Stratidomyidae) reared on local food waste to effectively feed poultry. Significantly less water and land is required to raise Black Soldier Fly larvae and fewer greenhouse gas emissions are generated, relative to the production of soy and fishmeal for animal feed industry. In order to account for the environmental pressure meat production puts on our environment, chickens were raised on Black Cat Farm in Longmont, CO using a more sustainable, insect-based, feed. At seven weeks of age, 127 chickens were randomly assigned to three dietary treatments (3 replicates and 14-15 birds per pen). Each chicken was weighed every three days using a fish scale and weighing basket. Feed weight was recorded using the same method; food and water were supplied ad libitum. Weights of chickens were averaged before analysis to overwrite inevitable variation between chicken and enclosure environments. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on growth data to identify significant between treatments. After three weeks, there was no significant difference in growth rate, feed conversion, or mortality between the three feed types. Healthy growth was observed among all chickens, suggesting that Black Soldier Fly larvae can effectively replace soy and fishmeal in poultry feed. This confirmation of alternative feed has the potential to influence approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of insect based protein once analysis is conducted throughout the chicken’s lifetime for the next 2-6 weeks.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons