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What About Insect Welfare?

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Here at Bugvita we care about the welfare of farmed insects and want to share with you some of our thoughts about this important subject.


Insects are being farmed for human consumption at an ever-increasing rate. They offer an excellent source of protein that can be produced in a way that doesn't damage the environment, nonetheless, it is important we don't overlook the welfare of these insects. Crickets may be small, but this does not mean their welfare should be overlooked. As with any animal being raised for food, certain measures need to be taken to ensure their well-being. This includes providing a suitable living environment and protecting them from injuries or stress during farming processes. And when it comes time for slaughter, methods such as freezing offer an ethical way of euthanising the crickets. Many countries, including the Netherlands and Thailand, have already started implementing insect welfare guidelines. We believe that other nations, including the UK, should follow suit and make sure that insect farming is done in a way that takes welfare into account. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key concerns and what we have done to address them.


Insect Sentience

There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that insects are sentient. This means that they are capable of feeling pain, pleasure, fear and other emotions. Insects have a nervous system that is very similar to that of mammals. They also have a well-developed brain, which allows them to process information and respond to their environment. In addition, insects exhibit a number of complex behaviours that suggest they are capable of experiencing feelings. For example, honey bees communicate with each other using an intricate language that includes facial expressions and dance moves. They also show signs of altruism, meaning that they are willing to sacrifice their own needs for the good of the hive. All of this evidence suggests that insects are capable of experiencing a range of emotions, including pain, fear and pleasure. This means that we need to take their welfare into account when farming them for human consumption. Some people argue that we should not eat insects because of this, as we would not want to eat something capable of feeling pain. Others argue that, if the insects are killed humanely, there is no reason not to eat them. Ultimately, the decision about whether to eat insects is a personal one.

Farming conditions

One of the main concerns about eating insects is the welfare of the animals. Many people worry that insects are kept in cramped and unsanitary conditions and that they are not protected from injury or stress. To address these concerns, we have done extensive work to ensure the welfare of our crickets during farming. This includes looking at how to humanely kill them and how to prevent them from becoming stressed or injured. We are working to ensure that all insect farms are properly regulated, so that the animals are raised in a safe and healthy environment.

The Five Freedoms

The Five Freedoms are a set of principles that guide animal welfare. They include the freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; the freedom from discomfort; the freedom from pain, injury and disease; the freedom to express natural behaviour; and the freedom from fear and distress.

When it comes to insect farming, we need to make sure that the insects have ready access to good quality feed and clean water. We also need to make sure that the environment they are raised in is kept clean and that correct measures are in place to prevent outbreaks of pests and diseases. One of the best ways to reduce fear and distress and allow the insects to express natural behaviour is to ensure that they have sufficient space to move around. This means that, although most farmed insects are gregarious and love to be close to other insects, stocking density should not be allowed so high that it impacts the insect's ability to move around freely. By considering the Five Freedoms, we can make sure that our crickets are kept in a safe and healthy environment, where they are free from harm and stress.

Humane slaughter

The most humane method to kill crickets is to freeze them. As the temperature decreases, the crickets lose consciousness. This is a natural process that occurs in insects when they are subjected to certain stimuli, such as cold temperatures. It is a form of hibernation, and it causes the insect to enter a temporary state of suspended animation. During this time, the insect's heart rate and breathing slow down, and they stop eating and drinking. In the wild, this helps insects to survive during times of environmental stress. For example, during winter, when the temperature drops too low, the insect can enter diapause and survive until conditions improve. In a farmed environment diapause is used to ensure that the insects do not experience any pain or suffering when they are killed.

Conclusion

Insects are an excellent source of protein, and they can be farmed in a way that doesn't damage the environment. However, there are some welfare concerns that need to be addressed. By providing information on how to farm insects in a way that is respectful of their welfare, we hope that we can help people feel comfortable about making this sustainable protein source a part of their diet.

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