Authors: Ruben Santana, CFS, Nahal Matin, MS, and Sarah Schlafly
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Jeff Lang, owner of the Herring River Oyster Club, for sponsoring this research.
As pet ownership continues to increase over time, alternative protein sources should be considered in the pet food industry. Ideally, these novel ingredients will have a lower environmental impact and compete less with human food compared with livestock species that are used in the pet food industry today. A series of experiments were conducted to explore the potential of using crickets as a protein source in super premium dog foods. Nutrient analysis conducted on crickets revealed high crude protein, crude fiber, and crude fat with values averaging 69%, 7%, and 17%, respectively. The quality of the crickets were high as amino acid analysis revealed crickets to be a good source of amino acids such as tryptophan, methionine, arginine, tyrosine, valine, taurine, and lysine. Generally, crickets contained higher amounts of these amino acids compared with lamb and beef meals. Crickets were also a great source of vitamins and minerals, and they had an excellent fatty acid composition with values for linoleic acid being as high as 5% and linolenic acid being as high as .4%. These values surpassed that of chicken, lamb, and beef meals. The potential of extruding cricket based diets was analyzed in this study, and it was concluded that cricket meal had excellent extrudability. Cricket meal was observed to have good water binding capacity and no processing issues were observed during extrusion. Dog protein/fat digestibility were measured and shown to be high in cricket containing diets. Fat digestibility values significantly exceeded those of the lamb based diets that were analyzed. Dog palatability and preference results showed that cricket based diets were compared with other chicken and lamb based diets. Cricket containing diets appeared to be just as or more palatable and preferred to other chicken and lamb based diets.