The dietary used of BSF meal also positively modulated the immune status of small intestinal tissue in those young birds, said the team.
Writing in Animal Feed Science and Technology, the researchers noted that the full fat Hermetia illucens larvae meal (HM) is a rich source of protein and fat.
It can be used for turkey poults at up to 150g/kg, with the limiting factor for higher dietary dosages being the fat content in the meal, they said.
The aim of their study was to determine the efficacy of full-fat BSF larvae meal as a protein source in diets for the youngest turkey poults, based on growth performance and parameters of intestinal function, in other words, immune status and fermentation processes in the gut.
The experiment was carried on 432 one-day-old male Hybrid Converter turkeys. The birds were randomly divided into four dietary treatment groups, with 12 replicates of nine birds each.
During a four-week feeding period, the HM content of turkey diets was 50, 100 and 150g/kg in groups HM50, HM100 and HM150, respectively, explained the team.
The highest HM content in the experimental diet HM150, limited by high crude fat content, replaced one third of soybean meal (SBM) (295 vs. 429g/kg) in the control diet.
The inclusion of dietary HM resulted in a linear increase in the dry matter (DM) content and viscosity of small intestinal contents, said the authors.
The highest inclusion rate of HM did not affect immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels, but it increased immunoglobulin Y (IgY) levels in the small intestinal tissue compared with the control treatment, they reported.
Simultaneously, dietary HM exerted an anti-inflammatory effect by decreasing tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and increasing interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels in small intestinal tissue - linear and quadratic response, respectively.
The dietary inclusion of HM also increased the activity of selected microbial enzymes and butyric acid concentration in the cecal digesta.
Increasing inclusion levels of HM did not affect the final body weight (BW) or body weight gain (BWG) of birds but induced a linear decrease in the feed conversion ratio (FCR).
“The results of this study indicate that HM can be included in diets for young turkeys at up to 150 g/kg without compromising the immune status or growth performance of birds, intestinal development and function.”