Dogs love to eat some pretty dodgy things, so it is no surprise they are enjoying food made from maggots.
A vet making dog food from fly larvae sees it as the perfect protein replacement for red meat
The lab-grown larvae are dried into meal and made into biscuits
The pet food industry is looking at alternative sources of protein for the future
A veterinarian for the RSPCA, Stephanie Stubbe grew up on a beef farm at Splitter’s Creek outside of Albury.
She has created a dog food product made from dried fly larvae that she hoped would lead to more environmentally friendly pet food.
“They make a complete protein that’s much more sustainable and is also hypo-allergenic.
“Many dietary allergies in dogs are caused by red meat so this idea is about creating a healthy protein that is more sustainable.”
The larvae are harvested in laboratories in Victoria and Western Australia and have a 26-day life cycle.
“At the 13-day point, they are harvested, dried, and turned into a meal.
“It’s the same as chicken or beef meal, and looks and feels the same as the product that goes into kibble.”
The product is more expensive, however, Ms Stubbe believed as the industry evolved costs would come down.
“Black soldier fly larvae protein is more expensive than red meat, but we’re not out there to compete against the big players,” she said.
“More and more players are coming online and with more production, the cost will come down.”
Moving away from red meat
Ms Stubbe started her business, Anipal, to drive sustainable change in the vet industry.
“I’ve always been interested in what ingredients go into pet food,” she said.
“Most of the vet industry is an altruistic community; we’re concerned about the environment.”
Most pet food is created from off-cuts from slaughterhouses, and Ms Stubbe was not against red meat dog food.
However, she said there needed to be room for more options.
“The fact of the matter is that we don’t have enough red meat for humans, and for off-cuts to be going to the growing pet consumer space … we need to provide more sustainable resources,” Ms Stubbe said.
“We can use a whole variety of ingredients for pets.
“It’s not about one or the other, but about providing more alternatives.”
Future of pet food
Ms Stubbe said the pet food space was exciting at the moment as more options opened up.
“The most essential thing is that we are providing the healthiest dietary options possible for our pets,” she said.
“Studies backed by literature, backed by experience from the medical and veterinary field, show we can provide anything.
“A new study out recently from the UK is suggesting that you can look after a dog just as well on a vegetarian or vegan diet.”
Ms Stubbe said she saw many options in the future for pet food including the use of seaweed and fungi.
“I’m a big believer in fungi. It can be an incredible protein as well, and you can grow it in a range of environments,” she said.
“We have a very unique, native seaweed that I’m working with a former CSIRO scientist on for our product line.”
Ms Stubbe also believed carp could be used as a future source of protein for pets.
“There’s a whole bunch of things we could be doing and it’s exciting to be in this space, really.”