Feed is the single most expensive factor in all livestock production and Maggots are affordable, green and sustainable high protein feed (65% protein) for fish, poultry birds and piggery.
Maggot feed is noted to reduce mortality by close to 100% and are also a perfect replacement for current orthodox protein product offering in the market, soybean and carnivorous fishmeal and thus make farmers investment attractive.
It has good nutritional value, cheaper and less tedious to produce than other animal protein sources. It is also produced from wastes, which otherwise would constitute environmental nuisance.
The production system thus serves the dual purpose of providing a nutrient-rich resource as well as a source of waste transformation and reduction
It has been suggested that the good growth and nutrient utilization capacity of livestock fed maggot-based diets stem from the high biological value i.e. nutrient composition and digestibility, of the ingredient reported that maggots are easily digested by livestock. And this has been attributed to its relatively high crude fibre content, which plays a significant role in feed digestion. It has been reported also that the biological value of maggot meal is equivalent to that of whole fish meal.
Curiosity drove Dr Emma Naluyima into a money minting venture many elite farmers would dub ‘impossible’. A trained veterinary doctor from Makerere University and a practising mixed farmer for the last 12 years, Dr Naluyima wondered what chicken always scavenged from pig dung.
“I kept looking critically at chicken tearing apart dung and then I observed that they were scavenging for earthworms and maggots. I made deep research and settled on a project that has in two years saved me from excessive spending on feeding chicken on high value nutrients and proteins,” she reminisces with joy.
“I call maggots gold. Anything got from dung is gold to me. I was also inspired by lack of what to give the chicken. I acknowledged humans compete with poultry for nutrients such as silver fish so I had to look around for alternatives,” she says.
On the importance of maggots, she says because of maggots, her chickens start laying eggs at four and half months compared to other local breed that start at six months. Dr Naluyima reveals:
“Maggots help in forming the delicious yellow yolk eggs that many cherish and add weight to chicken.”
On how to get and process the maggots, she added it is all about playing with the life cycle of a housefly. “We start by picking the dung from the pig section, put it in the open shed for six to eight hours to attract houseflies. We want as many houseflies as possible to lay eggs and get many maggots. We then cover the dung and keep it for four to five days,” says Dr Naluyima. When they hatch or metamorphose into the larvae stage that they want, Dr Naluyima and her husband start picking the ‘golden’ maggots manually.
The short life cycle of houseflies dictates early usage of maggots because immediately they will turn into pupae and later a house fly again. “That same day or the next you have to feed them to chicken before they die. The other option is preserving them in a refrigerator and using them later. The beauty about maggots is that they will be alive when defrosted,” she says.
It is a natural process; it allows Dr Naluyima to also feed her fish on maggots and earthworms. She advises; “you can feed the chicken without sorting maggots from dung but we feel mixing maggots with maize bran is better.”
It is concluded that based on production cost, availability, biological value, growth and nutrient utilization, maggot meal is a viable alternative protein source to other feeds in fisheries, poultry and piggery diets.
This is especially so in developing countries like Ghana where feeds is imported at an exorbitant cost. Livestock industry can thus benefit from wide availability of this local and inexpensive feeds. This is the key to the development of a productive, profitable and sustainable livestock production in Ghana.