By Caroline Stocks

Maggot oil offers sustainable boost to ram semen quality

Adding maggot oil from black soldier fly larvae to sheep feed could improve the quality of ram semen and boost the long-term reproductive efficiency of flocks.

Oil from black soldier fly maggot has emerged as an alternative energy source for livestock because it contains high levels of fats, including lauric, myristic, oleic, and palmitic acids.

While these fats offer a range of benefits, including protecting cells against oxidative damage and producing energy quickly, they are also known to improve livestock reproduction by supporting sperm maturation, mobility  and quality.

In a study carried out at IPB University in Indonesia, researchers decided to investigate the effects feeding protected maggot oil could have on ram semen.

Using 15 rams aged between 10 and 12 months, the researchers fed the animals a standard ration of 30% grass and 70% concentrates, adding maggot oil at either 4% and 8%. A control group received the standard feed with no additional oil.

Over the course of two months, the team measured nutrient consumption, blood cholesterol levels, scrotal circumference and sperm quality, analysing the data across the three groups.

Improving genetic quality of flocks

The results showed there were no significant differences in the consumption of dry matter, crude protein, crude fibre, scrotal circumference, or in semen macroscopic quality, regardless of which diet the rams ate. 

However, both groups that were fed protected maggot oil treatments produced significantly (p < 0.05) higher consumption of lauric, myristic, and oleic acids, blood cholesterol levels and sperm motility than the control group. There was no significant different in the results between animals fed 4% oil and those fed 8%, the scientists said.

“Low fat content in semen can lead to a decrease in sperm quality [so] it may be necessary to supplement high-fat feed to improve semen quality,” the researchers wrote in their preliminary report of the study.

“This supplementation can increase plasma fat content in semen, which, in turn, maintains sperm motility, membrane integrity, and protection against cold shock.”

Previous research had investigated the effects of using fish oil, flaxseed oil and coconut oil on sperm quality, however using oils that could be used in the food industry isn’t sustainable, the researchers said.

Instead, using block soldier fly maggot, which contains as much as 32% fat, has good potential as an alternative, sustainable feed oil — particularly if it can help produce high-quality semen that can be used in artificial insemination, ultimately improving the genetic quality of livestock, they added.

Share this article...

You might also like...

Share this article...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by:

Sign up to our newsletter

FFF’s bi-weekly emails are filled with the latest news and information — sign up now to make sure the good stuff reaches your inbox. We promise we won’t send spam.
Subscription Form
Farming Future Food