We have started to breed the black soldier fly for the first time in September 2020 and now we are about to sign contracts to become one of the most sustainable and highest quality black soldier fly breeders in Germany.
But how does such a breeding actually work? What are the steps from fallen fruit to the food bowl of your animals?
Basically, the production can be divided into the following areas:
- Kitchen - waste delivery to the feeding of the larvae
- Fattening - freshly hatched larvae until harvesting
- Reproduction - A small part of the larvae becomes a fly and reproduces
- Hatchery - After the eggs are laid, they are incubated
- Further processing - The drying, grinding, degreasing, etc.
What happens in the kitchen?
Our larvae are fed exclusively on organic waste materials. In June 2022, we want to reach our goal of 2 tons of dried larvae per month. This would mean that we would save about 30 tons of organic waste per month from incineration.
To achieve this, we contract with regional farmers and orchards to deliver their sorted waste to us. These come to us in silos, where various wastes mature into homogenized fodder.
From there, the mass is enriched with water by a mixer and pumped by a feed pump into the boxes, where the larvae convert the waste into high-quality protein and healthy fats.
What happens next in the fattening process?
The young larvae (only 1-2 millimeters in size) gorge themselves on the feed, excreting organic frass. This frass is high quality compost and fertilizer that can be reused in agriculture.
The larvae do not need much to grow. They do not need light, good ventilation and cooling if necessary. Over the next 10 days they eat twice their body weight every day.
At the end they are about 2-3cm long and weigh about 0,15g. After they have reached this size, the boxes with the larvae are "sucked" empty and the larvae and the frass are separated through a large sieve. The frass is then bottled and can give life again in agriculture or flower beds.
But where do you get your offspring?
Only 1% of the larvae we grow in the mast pupate further into flies. For this they go through the pupal stage where they neither eat nor drink. We store the pupae in a dry and dark place so that they can pupate. After 10 days the pupa hatches into a fly.
Even as a fly, the insect no longer takes food. The fly can neither bite nor sting. It now needs plenty of light, high temperatures, humidity and space to fly. It mates and then lays its eggs in small narrow slits near the food again. Each female can lay up to 1000 eggs, so we only need a small number of flies to keep our production going.
When do the larvae hatch from the eggs?
After the eggs are laid, they are taken to an incubator where the eggs are hatched under perfect conditions (no wind, no direct light, high humidity). The "baby larvae" are then grown in a small amount of food (the same as described in the first step above) for a few days and then moved to their boxes where the cycle starts all over again.
How does the larva become animal food?
The larvae are animal food. They can be fed wet and alive as they are. However, shipping is difficult and so is shelf life. So, most larvae are morally and ethically de-vitalized by a thermal shock and then dried in a drum dryer. During this process, they lose about 60% of their weight and end up consisting of over 60% pure protein and healthy fats.
The larva can also be pressed into pellets and de-fatted in the process. In addition, it can also be ground and fed as a powder. There are many different ways to process the larva. Important: In our company we will always sell only the larvae without admixture of other ingredients. We are a Pure-Insects brand and want to stay as such. The black soldier fly is a superstar that can improve the world.
These are the steps of our breeding, and we want to make it as automated as possible. It will be a breeding with "zero waste". Everything goes back to the animals as food or to nature as compost/fertilizer.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Greetings from Bonn!