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Mealworm Farming

Raising a small scale Mealworm Farm.

(Tenebrio molitor)

 

 

At the end of 2011 I bought 10,000 Mealworms from www.nyworms.com. I received them a few days later and I house them in a 3 drawer setup.

 

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The day they arrived!

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The worms came in a Large box and there were 2 Bags with approx 5,000 or more worms in each. I then dumped each bag into a drawer with about 2 inches of Wheat Bran for bedding and them Cut a Potato up for moisture.

 

I usually feed them 2-3 time per week by cutting up Apples or Potatoes for the colony to get moisture. I cut the slices about 1/2 inch thick the length of the Veggie. I have fed them carrots and Bananas as well.

 

About a week Later

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As the grew I started seeing Pupa. They are the 2 stage of life.

 

Then the Pupa Morph into Beetles.

 

I Currently separate my Beetles from the worms and the Pupa in separate drawers. I will soon be placing screens in the bottom of the beetle drawers and using Rolled Oats for the bedding just for the beetles,

 

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When All of the Pupa Morphed into Beetles I decided to get another 3 Drawer Setup from Walmart for about $10. I also bought a strainer for sifting out the Beetles from the drawers.

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How To Raise Mealworms 101

 

1. Need a container to raise them in. I would recommend the sides be 4-5+ inches tall to prevent escapes. Aquariums, Plastic totes, Butter dish, pretty much any Plastic  or glass tub will work. The worms and beetles can not climb up these containers. You need surface area more than depth,

 

2. Bedding. I use Wheat bran on the worms and Pupa and Rolled Oats for Beetles. You can also use Chicken feed. Note: Either Freeze or Heat the bedding you use to prevent unwanted pests from taking over your Colony. Mites and Moths can destroy a colony,

 

3. Order your Mealworms and them add them to your Tote. They will reproduce quickly but the more you get the more you will have when they start reproducing. I would recommend 1,000-2,000 Mealworms. They come in Small, Medium, and Large. The Large will become Beetles much faster than the small but that is your choice.

 

4. Add a few veggies to your tote and watch them cover it! Make sure that you remove anything that they don't eat or is old. Mold is the #1 problem in the failure of Raising Mealworms. I recommend feed them 2-3 times a week and removing the old Veggies when giving them new.

 

5.Sit back and watch them grow! They grow very fast and the shed there skin quite often.

 

I will Update as my Mealworm Colony Grows!

 

 

DO NOT PLACE YOUR COLONY IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT! They will not survive. I will Put My Colonies out in our shop where my brooders are During the warm months Late April-Late September. They will not survive in cold temps. They grow faster the warmer they are. They will grow slowly at 55 degrees and grow fast at 100 Degrees.

 

WestKnollAmy and I are currently doing an experiment on growing them in our incubators and they are growing like crazy! I used old wipe bins without the lids for the test.

 

I have a control tub on top of my incubator with 75-100. I also have a tub with 75-100 in my Incubator. I will update when I can.

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Feel Free to Ask any questions or take a look at the Mealworm Farming Thread

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/492636/mealworm-farming

 

 

Thanks

 

Nate

Comments (13)

i am about to start a mealworm set up as treats to my chicken.
and to also raise and sell to my friends that breed with us. if you have any good tips let me know.
i am going to do about 10 sets of the plastic tubs so i figure 15-20 thousand when i start our
For 15-20,000 I would start out with (2) 3 drawer bins. I have approx 3-4k in each drawer and they are doing fine. I would use wheat bran for the bedding with the worms and rolled oats in with the Beetles with a Screen on the bottom of the drawer to allow the small worms and eggs to fall through.
Nate
Thanks a bunch for the GREAT narrative and photos!
I put my mealworms (before I read your excellent instructions) in a large styrofoam container, Soon I noticed white sandy looking residue in the bran around the inside edges of the container. To my chagrin, at TON of the worms had 'burrowed' into the styrofoam!! I had to remove the ones in the container then tear the styrofoam apart to retrieve the ones that were hiding. It took me over an hour to find them all! I rehomed them in a plastic bin, and put them in my nice warm, dark laundry room. As you said, they haven't climbed the walls of the plastic yet! Whew, I never knew the durned things had shark teeth!!
Just one question: what veggies do they actually like? I put celery and lettuce in there and it didn't look like they touched it.
Thanks again for the great advice and information!
Terri (momgoose)
WOW, I didn't think they would tear up styrofoam! The veggies that I usually put in for the Mealies are Potatoes, Apples, and Carrots. Sometime Lettuce but we its expensive compared to Apples or Potatoes.
How do you harvest them? I have heard you can freeze them or back them. Then at what stage do you harvest them? Could you just harvest the ones that you buy to start them?
I bought 10k large mealworms at the very beginning of Jan 2012 and All are now Beetles. I have very tiny worms about 1/4-1/2 inch that i will let them become beetles. Then I will start harvesting the worms. When I separate the Beetles I use the strainer that is sitting on to of the bin. It works really well.
Nate
Ok but what do you do to preserve the harvested ones? Could you just preserve the ones that you would normally raise?
Yeah I plan to either freeze them. I will probably place them in a small dish. Like a sour cream dish or butter bowl. That's it.
Nate
i am thinking of starting something like this. i am very very squirmish so it may be all my husband doing the work. i only have 4 chickens so i dont believe i need very many. couple of questions though.....1) how often can the chickens be feed these? 2) do i only give them the beetles or can they be given them worms too? 3) what do i do once i have too many? 4) can the worms get out? eeek!! 5) how do i transfer them to the different bins at different stages? 6) i live in south texas, i really dont want them in the house can they be kept in the laundry room? it has been dropping down to upper 30s at night.
Jramirez. Hello.. may b presumptive of me to jump in.. but there are other treat's.. that you wouldnt have to be squeemish over. my chickens like / love grapes.. cheese.. i'm sure there are many other options.. when i lived in a different town the neghibors little boy used to make his mom buy grapes to feed Bertha. I feel lucky i was instilled with curiosity for the creepy crawly and not to be fearful of bugs . / spiders ect.. but many folks are.. I wonder if it may be easier.. to find a different treat. than to worry when some one is gonna knock over the worm trey.. ; ) just as an option.. or.. maybe you'll learn to like the little worms. my point zz you dont have to make your self feel creepy just to give 'em a treat. ; )
I just got my first batch from local pet store... not very many for the 5 buck's but i have all three stages.. that i've separated out. I read some where that they lay eggs on the food source? .. would that be like cabbage or Kale? and if so.. when it de hydrates in the beetle trey,. should I move that to the worm bin so the eggs can hatch -- and for how long would it take for the eggs to hatch? or.. maybe i've got it all wrong.. what do you think.. about the egg laying
OkChickens: I just read your posting several times and am ready to start my mealworm farm. I have spent the last couple days researching and I like your explanations and directions, but I am confused about one part. I hope you read this and can explain. I see the picture above of the blue 3 drawer compartment. I see BEETLES in the 2nd and 3rd drawer...however you state you are going to be "placing screens in the bottom of the beetle drawers and using Rolled Oats for the bedding just for the beetles". How would this work for the beetles in the 3rd level drawer?
you don't have to separate the beetles and the meal worms? how do you get more meal worms? DO the beetles lay more larvae? thanks
I read as long as thee is plenty of food they won't eat the meal worms. Also, there needs to be some moisture in the meal worm container. I put a small sponge in the corner and wet it daily. Nothing happened until I did that.
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