Grub’s up: why maggot meals are a hit on one UK chicken farm

Birds greet their food with ‘scratch dances’ and productivity is up. Could insects be an alternative to deforestation-linked soy?

  • Photography by Anthony Cullen

It’s 10am and the hens are getting excited and bustling around. Jo and Charles Mear are approaching the hutches carrying blue crates and the birds, heads popping up, know what’s inside: black soldier fly larvae or maggots.

Watching chickens peck around for maggots should be utterly normal. Insects are a natural part of a bird’s diet, but most hens today never see one in their lifetime. Instead, they are kept indoors and fed a grain- and soy-rich diet, typically in the form of pellets.

Soy is our Achilles heel … it’s hard to convince farmers to move away from it

This is what chickens have evolved for millions of years to do, hunting and pecking around for their food

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Animals | The Guardian

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