Beta Bugs was set up to provide improved black soldier fly breeds for the rapidly emerging insect farming sector, which supplies animal feed industry.
Thomas Farrugia CEO of Beta Bugs explains: “Insects, such as the Black Soldier Fly, are excellent sources of protein for animal and aquaculture feed as well as a broad range of other resources from bio-materials to fuel. However, having only recently been domesticated, insects, unlike other agricultural species, are far from optimised for industry. There are huge improvements to be made in efficiency, quality of produce and ease of farming.
“We set up Beta Bugs to address the missing link in the insect farming sector, which was genetics – and it’s the link that creates the most scalable impact for an industry. Our mission is to double productivity.
“So, we’re improving the performance of Black Soldier Flies by selecting for traits that improve performance – these include growth rate, development time, fecundity and survival rate, amongst others.
“We use classical breeding techniques, i.e selective breeding, to make improvements to our genetics. Black Soldier Fly has a very short generation time of only a few weeks, meaning that significant genetic progress can be made in a year. We’re using specific quantitative genetics approaches and complementary technologies to identify the top performers in our breeding programme.
“We distribute our breeds through our egg production facility, The Multiplier™, which is coming online this year. Initially this will supply Just-Fly™, our entry level product, which we are starting to take and supply orders for.”
“If I could change the regulations, I would focus on the use of insects in animal feed, and I would ask the UK government to make sure regulations here are keeping up with those in the EU and consider going beyond that to allow a wider use of what feedstuffs insects can be grown on, and what insects can be used for.”
Thomas is one of the speakers at the Agri-TechE event ‘Advances in Breeding for Agriculture – New Tools for New Solutions’ on 23rd September from 1.30pm – 5pm.