Six experimental diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous (crude protein – CP: about 45.8 g/100 g as fed), isolipidic (ether extract – EE: about 15.2 g/100 g as fed), and isoenergetic (gross energy – GE: about 22.6 MJ/kg as fed). The six diets were obtained including, as fed basis, increasing levels of a partially defatted BSF larva meal – 0, 3%, 6%, 9%, 12% and 15% – corresponding to a substitution of 0% (BSF0), 10% (BSF3), 20% (BSF6), 30% (BSF9), 40% (BSF12) and 50% (BSF15) of FM. The BSF larva meal used in this study was provided by MUTATEC (Caumont-sur-Durance, France). The larvae had been raised on plant by-products and partially defatted using a mechanical process. Unfortunately, no other information was given by the producer about either the rearing substrate or the processing methodologies, as this information is considered confidential. The experimental diets were prepared at the Experimental Facility of DISAFA. All the ground ingredients and oils were individually weighed (KERN PLE-N v.2.2; KERN & Sohn GmbH, Balingen-Frommern, Germany; d: 0.01) and mixed with a blender (Brevetti S.A.G.A., Milano, Italy). To facilitate the pelleting process, an amount of 250 to 500 mL/kg of water was added to the mixture. The pelletizing was performed using a meat grinder (LABOR 32; Rheninghaus Factory, San Mauro Torinese, Italy). The pellets (3.0 mm) were subsequently dried (50 °C for 48 h) and stored in black bags at − 20 °C until used. The ingredients of the experimental diets are reported in Table 1.

Ingredients and proximate composition of the experimental diets and BSF larva meal

Abbreviations: BSF Hermetia illucens. a Purchased from Skretting Italia S.p.A. (Località Vignetto, 17-37060 Mozzecane VR, Italy). Proximate composition (g/100 g, as fed): DM 91.0, CP 67.6, EE 8.3, Ash 16.4. b Provided by MUTATEC (Caumont-sur-Durance, France). c Mineral mixture (g/kg or mg/kg diet): dicalcium phosphate, 500 g; calcium carbonate, 215 g; sodium salt, 40 g; potassium chloride, 90 g; magnesium chloride, 124 g; magnesium carbonate, 124 g; iron sulphate, 20 g; zinc sulphate, 4 g; copper sulphate, 3 g; potassium iodide, 4 mg; cobalt sulphate, 20 mg; manganese sulphate, 3 g; sodium fluoride, 1 g (purchased from Granda Zootecnici S.r.l., Cuneo, Italy). d Vitamin mixture (IU/kg or mg/kg diet): DL-α-tocopherol acetate, 60 IU; sodium menadione bisulphate, 5 mg; retinyl acetate, 15,000 IU; DL-cholecalciferol, 3000 IU; Stay C Roche (vitamin C), 90 mg; thiamin, 15 mg; riboflavin, 30 mg; pyridoxine, 15 mg; vitamin B12, 0.05 mg; nicotinic acid, 175 mg; folic acid, 500 mg; inositol, 1000 mg; biotin, 2.5 mg; calcium panthotenate, 50 mg (purchased from Granda Zootecnici S.r.l., Cuneo, Italy). e Values are reported as mean of duplicate analyses

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