Are Fish Bait Live Meal Worms or Reptile-food Live Mealworms safe?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by emartin, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. emartin

    emartin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2009
    I'm going to start a mealworm compost soon and was wondering if I just go to a pet store or bait and tackle store and buy refrigerated but live Mealworms would those be both safe for the chickens and suitable for me to use in a compost?

  2. domino7

    domino7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Mealworms are safe for your chickens. I don't think they are a good choice for a compost pile though. While mealworms can certainly be raised, they are actually beetle larva and not worms. It seems that they usually reccomend red wigglers for composting.
  3. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 11, 2008
    Murray Kentucky
    Mealworms won't be good for using as composters as they do not eat kitchen scraps.. [​IMG]

    You're looking to set up a vermiculture if what you're wanting to do is handle scraps like that.

    If you're just talking about raising your own mealworms, all you need is corn meal, chicken crumbles and a potato slice now and then for the adult beetles.

    Raising them is a WHOLE lot cheaper than buying.. But you'll still need to buy those starters to get a colony going.

    Hope this helps guide you.. If it's not what you're talking about, feel free to elaborate.
  4. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    by Joe D. Bryant

    Revised August 3, 2006

    You will need to gather the following before you begin

    --- One RUBBERMAID - Jumbo Storage Box - 50 gallons - 42.7 X 21.4 X18.0 (Sells for about $15 at Lowes and Menards, about $16 with wheels)

    Note: The container must be opaque because mealworms must be raised in the dark.

    --- One 50# bag of WHEAT BRAN - about $10 from any feed store, and bake what you need as you need it in an oven until it's all hot enough to destroy any eggs of mealy bugs, especially if you fear your wife's wrath as much as I do. I store my extra in the bag in my chest freezer until I need more for the mealworms.

    --- 2 paper grocery sacks (cut off the bottom, cut up the sides, and fold in half and put on top
    --- CARROTS (whole) and/or potatoes cut in half, cut side down (make three columns lengthwise). They must have these for moisture. Carrots are much easier to work with and don’t cost that much more than potatoes.

    --- 1,000 large, 1,000 medium, 1,000 small MEALWORMS Order them from for about $25 including shipping and handling

    Pour four to six inches of wheat bran into the container (add more later when you see that they need it), put the carrots/potatoes on top, dump all the mealworms on top, cover them with the grocery sack paper, and do nothing until the large mealworms turn into white, motionless grub that then turn into beetles. Once you have several hundred beetles, start collecting/using large mealworms that crawl between the folded paper by sliding them into a container. Do this every other day whether you need them or not; they can be kept indefinitely in a ventilated container in the refrigerator. Mealworms being kept in the refrigerator should be taken out for two or three hours each week so that they can be fed wheat bran and watered with carrots. Don't bother with the dead beetles; the baby worms will suck them dry, and their body parts will sift to the bottom of the container along with the feces dust and molting skins that the mealworms produce from eating the wheat bran.
    1. Don't use egg crates, etc., they're a pain in the neck. With the paper sacks, you can slide the large mealworms into a container easily. Carrots leave only a long, hard core; they and the dried potato skins should be removed occasionally.
    2. For some reason that I cannot explain, only the large worms crawl into the folded paper once the process starts. Stay up with removing most (not all) of them, or you will have a million mealworms on your hands in a very short time, and an odor will develop. That happened to me, and a million mealworms is not an exaggeration. Each pair of beetles will produce several hundred babies. Figure it out for yourself, 60 beetles will produce several hundred babies for each of 30 days in a month, SO STAY UP WITH THEM.
    3. Keep the container in a heated room during spring and summer, but store in a cool garage when you will not need mealworms. Heat and moisture are needed for growth. During the summer, I just lay the lid over the top; during the winter, the handles of the Rubbermaid Jumbo Box have vent holes that provide all the ventilation they need. Mealworms will multiply at temperatures ranging from 65 - 100 degrees F. The optimum seems to be about 80 degrees. I keep my house at about 74 degrees during the summer. I only keep them inside because it's more convenient.

    4. Remember that this is not rocket science; the mealworms know what they’re supposed to do and will do what they’re supposed to do. All you have to do is be sure that they always have enough wheat bran and carrots.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  5. Linda B central Ar

    Linda B central Ar Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 4, 2009
    I have had my meal worms for about 2 months so far so good, got the meal worms from natures way seem to be the best price and shipping. The worms changed to pupa and now into the bug, easy to contain. I moved the grubs to a smaller container, then they changed to bugs, I put pieces of wood bark on top of some chick starter crumbles, they like the bark to lay there eggs on. Keep a damp paper towel and different vegie for moisture and cover with a sheet of news paper.
    The chickens love the meal worms even the week old chicks.
    Been thinking about raising the black soldier fly larva for feed. It looks like a common house fly maggot, but the fly is not like the common house fly, so you don't have the worry about spreading germs, and the nusiance factor. Still in the thinking stage.
    linda b
  6. emartin

    emartin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2009
    But getting the live ones from a fish bait store or the pet store is perfectly safe though right?
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  7. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2008
    Upstate NY
    When my nephews come over they always bring bait or petshop mealworms. The girls LOVE them! It seems kind of gross to me- but it really appeals to the boys!
  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Yes, it's safe. Have fun with them. What lucky chickens you have!
  9. vermontworms

    vermontworms Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 16, 2009
    @emartin: Yes, getting mealworms from a pet/bait store is fine to feed to chickens, and also a fine way to start a mealworm colony. A cup of 100-500 mealworms will be enough to get a colony going.

    @joebryant: Great description of how to raise mealworms. I agree that carrots are better as a moisture source than potatoes. Two suggestions:

    1) You don't need much depth. For a large colony, and under-bed storage box is just fine (maybe 36" long x 18" wide x 6" deep).

    2) It's not necessary to keep the colony completely dark. Darker is better I think, but I've always used containers that were at least somewhat translucent. The mealworm larvae are usually burrowing in the food, anway.
  10. txredneckmedic

    txredneckmedic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2009
    I used to give my chickens fish bait worms all the time....i need to get more. they love them

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