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So, as there has been a lot of fuzz about cricket meal lately, I decided to give it a try myself. Since I like to experiment, I decided to raise the crickets myself, so I could go through the entire process.
After researching some literature I set up a breeder box with 15 females and 5 males. I fed them chick diet and provided water ad libitum. Unfortunately, the adults were bought from a pet shop so I didn’t know how old the adults were. I let them lay their eggs in a small plastic container filled with 2-3 cm of peat soil, which was put in the breeder box for 24 hours. The eggs hatched after 9 days. They were kept at 29-32 °C and reached adulthood in 36 days. Unfortunately, the adult crickets weighed not as much as I wanted them to (>0,4 grams each). The average weight per cricket was 0,287 grams for females and 0,243 grams for males. The total amount of crickets I could harvest out of one 20x20x20 cm container was 125 grams, which would translate to approximately 470 crickets.
Figure 1: Live crickets
The harvested crickets were euthanized by putting them in the freezer for around 30 minutes. After this the crickets were washed in cold running water and the dirt was separated. Then they were boiled for 5 minutes, to kill pathogens. After boiling the crickets were washed again and put on a paper towel to remove excess water.
Figure 2: Washing the crickets and sieving out the dirt after - Figure 3: Crickets after 5 minute boil and another wash being euthanized in the freezer
After this cleaning process, the crickets were placed in the dehydrator and were dried at 75 °C for 10 hours.
Figure 4: Placing the crickets in the dehydrator plate
After being dried, the crickets were weighed again. The fresh weight of 125 grams was reduced to 35 grams, which is a reduction of around 72%, which is conclusive with the literature.
Figure 5: Crickets being weighed after 12 hrs of drying at 75 degrees Celsius
The dried crickets were grinded using a mashing device. After being ground, I decided to sieve them with an ordinary kitchen sieve. This resulted in a very fine cricket meal and quite a lot of residue. In total, I got 11 grams of cricket meal and 23 grams of cricket residue.
Figure 6: Sieving the ground crickets
This high amount of residue could be caused by the low fresh weight of the crickets, or because it wasn’t grinded long enough. In the residue were a lot of very hard particles, which are shown in the picture below. I do not know what these are.
Figure 7: Cricket 'residue'
Even though this is only a very small amount of cricket meal, the same basic rules apply for larger scale production. I think crickets are extremely promising as a source of animal protein for human consumption. They are easy to rear in extreme high densities, they can be fed inexpensive chick diet and water.
If anyone has any questions, I will be more than happy to answer them. Hope it is of help to those interested in cricket meal :)