Efficiency of conversion

Efficiency of conversion

The efficiency of conversion of ingested food to body substance (ECI), can be used to compare the weight different animals gain after eating a certain quantity of feed. Effectively represents efficiencies of both digestion (approximate digestibility or AD) and how well digested food is converted to biomass (efficiency of conversion or ECD). Thus ECI = AD x ECD)

Beef cattle have an ECI of 10. Silkworms range from 19 to 31. German cockroaches max out at 44.(1)

Understanding of the basic principles of nutritional ecology can enhance the appreciation of insects as a food resource. Environmentalists and others concerned about nutrition and world food resources have long decried the reliance of some people on large animal protein (e.g., beef) as a dietary staple. The reasoning is that production of such high-quality protein is very inefficient; more food would be available if people ate the grain instead. This debate is complex. Suffice it to say, however, that a major reason that large animals are inefficient in transforming plant biomass into animal biomass is that they have very high maintenance costs. Large amounts of energy and nutrients are used to maintain constant body temperatures. Insects, being "cold-blooded," are more efficient in transforming plant biomass into animal biomass. (2)

(1) Time magazine; 29 May 2008(2) Excerpt from; The Food Insects Newsletter, March 1993. Volume 6, Issue #1, Richard Lindroth

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