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Research Project: The Impact of Insects as Animal Food

Location: Foreign Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-025-010-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 15, 2022
End Date: Sep 14, 2026

The Agricultural Research Service desires to enter into this agreement for the purpose of supporting research to be carried out at ARS and Cooperator facilities. ARS desires the Cooperator to provide goods and services necessary to carry out research of mutual interest to the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility - the Foreign Arthropod Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit in Manhattan, KS location for the purpose of completing the ARSX prize requirements, which are to examine insects as food for livestock and for the purpose of using those insects to survey for vector-borne diseases. The objective of this project is to quantify the digestion of insects in the rumen and the waste produced such as greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide). This project will characterize changes to the cattle rumen when insect proteins are substituted for plant-based proteins by describing and quantifying the impact of insect protein on cattle rumen health including characterizing changes to the rumen microbiota, the impact and fate of insects and chitin in the rumen (digestion). These studies will prepare American agriculture for the next generation of animal feed using insects as a protein supplement and the hazards of insects to cattle rumen health.

ARS is engaged in research addressing the impact of vector-borne pathogens of medical and veterinary importance and the ARSX prize which addresses the use of insects as animal feed. This project combines pathogen surveillance using the harvested insects and then feeding the insects to animals as an alternative protein source. This method will improve insect and pathogen surveillance as well as use the by-product, harvested insects as animal food to produce an economically sustainable surveillance system. The insect protein and chitin may impact greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle or disrupt the rumen environment. Therefore, to accomplish this mission, the cooperator and ARS plan to evaluate harvested insects using various methods such as batch sampling with ruminal fluid, dacron bags, etc. to examine several key factors relevant to using insects as animal feed. These studies can include the characterization of the impact of insect protein on the rumen microbiome. Varying the proportions (10%, 25%, 50%, and 100%) of the insect derived protein in the daily ration. In vitro digestion of insects with ruminal fluid to collect the gases released during digestion. Placing the insects in nylon bags and suspending them in the rumen to examine digestion rates and quantify what is digested in the rumen. Under the authority of 7 USC 3319a, ARS desires to acquire goods and services from the Cooperator to further agricultural research supporting the independent interests of both parties.