These are questions we hear a lot at Henart and are also important when it comes to animal welfare.
The animal proteins used in conventional dog food (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish) come from an industry that is increasingly being criticized for its negative impact on the environment:
- Significant greenhouse gas emissions and contribution to global warming
- Deforestation (to grow fodder crops).
- Significant use of freshwater reserves for livestock.
- Overfishing of wild fish for food for aquaculture.
For more and more people, these impacts on nature are a powerful incentive to reduce or even stop eating meat and to find alternative proteins for themselves and their pets.
Another reason to boycott the consumption of animal meat is the questionable housing conditions and welfare (or lack of welfare) of the animals during their period of captivity until they are killed.
All over the world there are voices against industrial animal husbandry and the suffering it inflicts on animals. In 2019, vegan groups and organizations denouncing animal cruelty have never had more impact.
WHAT ABOUT INSECT BREEDING?
Contrary to what some people think, at Henart we do not catch wild insects. Our insects come from certified companies in Germany that meet all the requirements of European production and hygiene standards for proteins of animal origin. It is sustainable and ecological agriculture, because for the same amount of edible protein, insects only need a fraction of the resources (water, land, energy, CO2 emissions) compared to other farm animals during their lifetime, and without any losses (100% of the insects are edible).
Ultimately, these insects are once again animals that are exploited by humans. Many people ask us whether breeding methods take their welfare into account or whether the insects suffer when they are killed.
Let's take a look at the lives of our mealworms, whose insect protein makes up up to 65% of our tasty dog and cat food (Henart).
The nocturnal flour beetles lay between 100 and 500 white eggs in a clutch. After a few days, 2 to 3 mm large flour beetle larvae, the mealworms, hatch from these. The animals shed their skin again and again until they pupate, since the chitin shell does not grow with them. Freshly molted larvae can be easily recognized by their soft skin and the resulting white color. Before pupation, the larvae are usually up to 30 mm long.
In the larval stage, the animals can live for up to a year, depending on the outside temperature and food supply. At temperatures below 5° C, however, they die off after a short time.
Bread, oatmeal or bran can be used as feed. Some wet food should also be given in between, eg in the form of carrots. These are particularly suitable because they are nutritious, not too moist and do not tend to form mold quickly. Only as much wet food should be given as will be eaten within 2-3 days. Mealworms also eat the shed skins of the larvae and pupae, and are also prone to cannibalism.
Now is it ethical?
Insects are invertebrates and do not feel pain as we understand it. One of the insect breeders we work with reminded us that "those who don't want to kill insects should stop driving because every drive kills a lot of them."
The issue of animal ethics is being studied by Professor Potthast of the University of Tübingen in Germany. The bottom line is that society must decide how to treat animals. It is ethical to identify different categories of animals (mammals, poultry, fish, insects) and treat them differently. It is now ethical to kill insects for a variety of reasons (voluntarily or involuntarily) and by a variety of means: fly swatters, chemical or biological pesticides, during transport, or even just while walking in the woods.
Insect breeding and its use as an alternative source of protein allows:
- a reduction in factory farming and the suffering of other animal species
- a better food yield (fewer resources for the same amount of protein)
- a reduction in negative environmental impacts.
By feeding your dog Henart's delicious insect protein, you actively support species-appropriate animal husbandry, reduce animal suffering and conserve natural resources.