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Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

Kreca is a leading insect farm in Europe with in-house knowledge of breeding and rearing 13 different species of insects. The company was established in 1978 and has since been successfully operating throughout Europe. AllAboutFeed visited the production location to learn what it entails to grow these insects in large volumes.

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  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The insect farm KRECA based in Ermelo, the Netherlands has been based here since 1981. The farm was set up by the Calis family, who started the insect business as a hobby.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    Marieke Calis has been in the business with her parents since she was young. She took us around the farm, which is currently home to 12 different insect species, intended for human food (5%) and pet food (95%). Using the insects for livestock feed is still prohibited. The main season for production for pet food is April until mid- October.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The farm consists of eight hoop barns where KRECA produces a few tonnes of insects per week. The temperature inside varies between 25 degree Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius, depending on the insect species.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    We kick start the tour viewing an area where the insects are kept, before they are packed into boxes. The crickets pictured here are kept on paper structures within a rolling storage cart.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    By using this paper structure, many animals can be kept in these boxes. On the bottom of the box you can see some feed (corn meal).

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The African field crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) are stored in the same way. A piece of carrot or apple is placed in the box to provide nutrients and liquid to the animals.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    An employee is preparing the boxes with live insects. KRECA employs nine people in total on a daily basis. There are also a number of students working on the farm during the weekend.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The lesser meal worms (Alphitobius diaperinus) are kept in corn meal. In each box, you can see a mixture of animals, feed and the waste of the insects. All the insects are fed a plant based diet and no antibiotics are used. Waste streams (from restaurant for example) are not used as the contents vary too much and the quality cannot be ensured.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The farm conducts a bacteriological investigation four times a year and a quality check once a year. KRECA also tests the presence of heavy metals in the insects on a regular basis. This is of particular interest for insects intended for human food. So far, the quality has been very good at the farm.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The farm is full of boxes, home to hundreds of kilograms insects. There is no pungent smell in the rooms. According to Marieke, the smell is a mixture of the feed, the insects themselves and a bit of manure.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The larvae of the sun beetle (Pachnoda butana) are kept in peat. The larvae use the peat to create a cocoon.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The different stages of the sun beetle. These insects are particularly popular for larger reptiles and birds.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    Then we move on to the biggest animals KRECA produce, the cockroaches (Blaptica dubia). They are kept in barns at a temperature of between 25-30 degrees Celsius. It takes 12 weeks to grow them into adult cockroaches, but KRECA sells them both as adult and medium size animals.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    Both male and female cockroaches are produced. There is no difference in production or weight gain between the two sexes. The male cockroaches have wings.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    Up next was a room where the insects are brought in when they are fully grown and ready to be sold. The insects intended for human food are freeze-dried. The ones sold as pet food are mostly (95%) sold as live animals. The produced animals are sometimes sold per box or per kilogram, depending in the specie.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The larvae of the darkling beetle (Zophobas morio) is sifted, so the feed and manure can be filtered out. Most of the work at the farm is done by hand. For the future they are looking to automatise some of the work, e.g. the cleaning and filling of the feed boxes.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The end result after the sifting process.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The insects are fed on corn meal or groat meal. KRECA sources feed locally and stores the feed in three different silos. The farm uses several tonnes of meal per week. The feed is ground down to a very fine consistency, less than a millimetre in size.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The groat meal.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

    The cleaning room where all the boxes are washed (and disinfected) thoroughly before new batches of insects are placed in them.

  • Photo report: Insects - From a hobby to big business

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