The voice of the producers: in Italy, the protagonists of the pilot actions enthusiastic about the diets proposed by the project

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Fieldwork is one of the key aspects of the SUSTAvianFEED project. In fact, producers are one of the main targets of the project’s activities, not only to promote a new sustainable diet in poultry farming, but also as active protagonists of the change, whose knowledge and experience represent a unique and indispensable background for an optimal result.

In this context, the University of Turin (North-west Italy), the project partner that is testing the effects of dietary insect larvae supplementation on bird’s welfare and health (gut microbiota and microbioma) (task 3.3) and that will focus its pilot activities on the Italian chicken breed “Bianca di Saluzzo”, a meat-type breed, carried out some interviews with some Piedmonts’ small local poultry producers (Italy) involved in the project that work with medium/slow growing genotype

The main focus point of the interview was to evaluate and assess farmers’ opinion on soybean meal reduction in poultry diets, and the introduction of insects as fresh or dried larvae.

The farmers who decided to participate in this interview were asked two open questions in which they could express their thoughts on this topic, and six questions in which they had to give a value on a scale from 1 to 5 based on their opinion.

Many interviewed farmers were particularly interested on the use of insects in poultry farming, in particular the possibility of establishing a small-scale farm where they could use their waste to self-produce independently insects’ larvae. The main concern for almost all was the high price of insects supplying.

In general, all the farmers showed interest in the possibility of using new innovative diets which are more sustainable.

In particular they were concerned about the supplying and pricing of soybean meal and they were also interested in transferring the use of innovative ingredients in feed to the final product, giving it an added value.

All the farmers showed also to be interested in the integration of insects in the feed. More than 50% were already informed about the use of insects in poultry nutrition and asked information’s about building a facility in their farm.

From these interviews, therefore, it emerged that farmers are conscious about the environmental issues of their sector, in particular related to the impact of the use of soybean meal in poultry feeding. Thus, the possibility of utilizing a less environmental impactful diet/ingredient seems to be an important aspect to be considered for them. Moreover, it is reflected also by their willingness to pay a small extra price for the experimental feed, together with the possibility to claim a higher price for their final products.

Pilot activities are about to begin in the field, so results will not be long in coming.

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