Finding uses for egg production residue

Finding uses for egg production residue
Apr 23, 2024

Mariève Dallaire-Lamontagne is studying methods for managing byproducts and waste material

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Giving egg production residue a second life using insects is what a PhD candidate from Université Laval is studying.

Mariève Dallaire-Lamontagne is focusing on finding alternative methods for managing byproducts and waste material like carcasses, unmarketable eggs, manure and other organic residue.

“We collect the residue and apply a fermentation process,” she told from Switzerland where she’s collaborating with colleagues on the economic viability of this idea for farmers. “It’s almost like if we were making a kimchi or a yogurt. We then take the fermented product and feed it to black soldier flies.”

Black soldier flies can convert organic waste into protein and fat. These insects can then be fed to poultry or fish or used in the pet food market.

The process to create the feed for the flies takes about one week and has a paste-like consistency.

And her previous research showed black soldier flies that ate the diet of hatchery waste had more protein in them compared to insects that ate food high in carbohydrates, which resulted in more fat.

Mariève Dallaire-Lamontagne
Mariève Dallaire-Lamontagne (LinkedIn photo).

“At the end of the day both are good diets,” she said.

The overall goal of her work is to close production gaps and help farmers save costs.

“The idea is to create this circle where we reuse the residue already made on farms and create more food using food waste,” she said.

Part of her research in Switzerland will focus on the kind of business model that can support this feed production in Canada if regulations allow.

She will study the pros and cons of two models.

A centralized model, where all of the insects are treated in one place and distributed to farms. And a decentralized model, where each individual farm is set up to house the black soldier flies and make the feed from the production waste.

She will look at infrastructure, input and other costs and will make projections for five and 10-year plans.

Her initial guess is the decentralized model will be a better option.

“I like the decentralized model,” she said. “It seems more sustainable because you’re treating everything at the farm and don’t have to worry about additional transportation. But the data we collect will tell us which model works better.”

Dallaire-Lamontagne expects to have her research completed and published by the end of 2023.

Creating feed from insects may also provide an extra income opportunity for farmers.

The insect-based pet food market was worth about US$8.31 billion in 2023 and is projected to increase to almost US$17 billion by 2031.

“The value of insects in the pet food market is super high right now,” Dallaire-Lamontagne said. “I see a lot of potential here.”

Dallaire-Lamontagne's work tied for first place in Egg Farmers of Canada's inaugural Student Innovation Challenge.

This contest welcomed research ideas from post-secondary students to help shape the future of Canada's egg sector.

"It is these ideas and the pursuit of evidence-based research that will help drive innovation in our sector," said Roger Pelissero, chair of Egg Farmers of Canada. "From supporting farmers as they embrace new farming practices and technology, to reinforcing the important role of eggs in our diets and discovering novel ways to use eggs - the possitibilites are endless."

Dallaire-Lamontagne shared the first place title with Ravneet Kaur from the University of Alberta.

Kaur's research explores using eggs to enhance the protein intake of individuals undergoing cancer treatment.

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