Living With Micro-livestock Production II

American Cockroaches  Photo: Purdue Extension

American Cockroaches Photo: Purdue Extension

Feeding the population of the future will require more food than is currently produced on earth, especially new protein sources. Thoughts turn to insects (or “Micro-livestock“) as food. Insects can be a good protein source for traditional livestock and many are edible by humans. Many of the world cultures already utilize some insects in their diet. These cultures are leading the development of micro-livestock for human consumption; Western cultures that use little to no insects in the diet are behind.

Barbara Demick has an article in the LA Times about cockroach farming in China. The preferred species is the American Cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Cockroaches can be fed table scraps or other plant material that humans and livestock do not eat. Millions of cockroaches can be reared in a relatively small space. Cockroaches are harvested by dropping them in boiling water and drying them.

How are they used? A small portion of the cockroaches are served as a human food “delicacy”. Chinese medical and pharmaceutical companies are using cockroaches as an inexpensive source of protein. Cockroaches can be fed to livestock as dried whole cockroaches, or can be processed and blended into feed. One woman in China reports quitting her factory job and making the equivalent of $10,000 selling cockroaches. The startup costs are low and returns on investment can be as high as 300 percent.

Those interested in entering the cockroach rearing business must choose their location carefully. Neighbors might object to living next door to cockroach rearing facilities and the inevitable escapees. One gentleman in China located his operation in a building that was condemned. Authorities knocked down the building not realizing it was used for cockroach rearing. The million cockroaches that poured our of the structure (to the consternation of the neighbors) had to be eradicated.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Living With Micro-livestock Production II

  1. argylesock says:

    Reblogged this on Science on the Land and commented:
    argylesock says… Here’s a blog post about raising the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) for food, medicine and livestock feed.

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