Take mounds of manure, add flies and fish guts – and you end up with a maggot based  meal that’s snapped up by farmed fish.

It sounds gross but numerous reports show that scientists from Idaho universities have developed a new maggot-based fish feed that also removes manure and fish wastes.

Idaho is America’s largest producer of farmed rainbow trout, valued at more than $35 million annually. And with a half million cows, it’s the nation’s fourth-biggest dairy state.

But along with all those cows come nearly 30 billion pounds of poop.

So – with fish meal prices skyrocketing and mountains of manure piling up, Idaho researchers aimed to create something cheaper that also eats up tons of dung and fish guts in the process.

To the rescue — black soldier flies, used widely in Asia to eat restaurant wastes.

In tests by animal waste management engineers, the flies quickly reduced 700 buckets of cow manure by half, and seeded it with their eggs.

Two months later, fish guts from local farms were added to the brew to enrich the maggots with omega fatty acids. Then they were cleaned, frozen, ground up and fed to rainbow trout in test stations along the Snake River.

The fish really liked the feed, which made sense to the scientists since flies are a more natural food than corn and soybean meals.

The next step is to raise trout to harvest size and do taste tests to see how they compare to fish fed traditional diets.  Commercial fish food producers said they were intrigued by the maggot-based, omega enhanced fish meal.

Waste engineers believe it could become an important niche industry for Idaho’s dairy farmers who can count on their cows to produce 30 billion pounds of manure each year.

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