Can I feed black soldier fly larvae straight from the breeding bucket?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Pet Duck Boy, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    It's been a week since I set up my black soldier fly bucket and within days I had numerous egg masses and baby larvae. Today, I have thousands already. Turns out Florida harbors an already healthy population of adults. The medium which the larvae are feeding off is 3 inches of old, wet, chicken layer, along with decomposing vegetable matter. The medium still smells, like, well, fermented feed that has sat out in the sun. In short, it doesn't smell good. Is it safe to start feeding the grubs off by now? Or should I wait for the grubs to completely finish the medium until I smell the reported "Pleasent, earthy aroma"? And once the colony is mature, can I feed larvae straight from the bucket even though their guts are full? (I plan to switch to a much cleaner grain and kitchen scrap diet once I get adult flies, instead of this stinky 'sit in the sun until it smells' method)
     
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    I'd say it is fine, but if you want you could rinse the bugs before feeding.

    As I understand it, most of those fly buckets have a way that the larvae can climb out on their own and feed the chickens directly and lots of people let their chickens eat directly out of their compost piles with no ill effects.
     
  3. rolivier79

    rolivier79 New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2010
    Honestly,

    I would never feed grubs from a stinking food source. The smell you are smelling is there for a reason and indicates anaerobic bacteria. You probably have moisture accumulating in your unit. When people let chickens go into their compost pile you have to assume that the compost is well processed and relatively AEROBIC, not ANaerobic.

    Yes grubs do like to self harvest themselves and when they do so they actually excrete their entire digestive systems and leave them within the waste to reduce the risk of carrying pathogens within themselves during pupation (or cocooning). They clean themselves before the chickens can get them. Also the fatty acids of the grubs contain lauric acid a and capric acid which have certain antimicrobial properties similar to an antibiotic. But just the presence of these fatty acids is not enough to sterilize them 100%. Therefore it's important for your bin to be a healthy aerobic system. The fact that the grubs leave behind their digestive track prior to pupation/migration and the fact they contain natural antibiotics fatty acids only helps as a extra layer of defense.

    On a second note, I would highly advice not to feed chicken waste to insects and then these same insects back to chickens.

    I recommend feeding the grubs derived from food waste and or fish waste back to birds.
    and grubs derived from bird waste back to fish and/or reptiles.

    Think of the grubs as a bioconverter of nutrients and not a sanitizer of waste. Yes they have some techniques to control pathogens that are quite beneficial, but they can't guarantee sterility. For that you need temperature, or fermentation.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Olivier
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  4. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Quote:Thanks for the info! (I've done my research, and I'm definitely not going to feed these grubs chicken waste, or waste of any kind) Surprisingly, the bucket has changed in odor overnight. It now smells like a freshly opened bag of cow manure for plants, not stinky, just the strong earthy aroma that I've heard soldier grub colonies are supposed to smell like. I'll still wait a week or two before feeding them off. Since I'm only a little more than a week into the project since I first started, so like I said I'm going to give the grubs a little more time to get rid of all the anaerobic material. I think I added to much old feed when I started the bucket, but it looks like the 5,000 grubs are taking care of it.
     
  5. rolivier79

    rolivier79 New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2010
    Post a picture if you can [​IMG]

    yes smell is your number one tool when assessing overall health.

    I've noticed that once the number of grubs get to a certain level it can still take a few weeks for the bacteria to get optimized. Once that happens it's like a next wave of bio-productivity. Typically I see this after 6-8 weeks in a BioPod™.

    robert
     
  6. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Quote:I will later. [​IMG]

    Also, most of the larvae are 3/4ths of an inch and are getting darker by the hour. (Not quite as dark as the prepupals I've seen in pics though) I also just added the self harvesting container and tubes. It's pretty much a 1/2 inch tube that spirals up 30-40 degrees and leaves the bucket through a drilled hole and into a container. I haven't seen the larvae using this during the hours it's been up. Most of the time they are churning at the bottom of the bucket. When they are ready to self-harvest, will they circle the top of scraps until they find the entrance to the tube?
     
  7. rolivier79

    rolivier79 New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2010
  8. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Good to know.
     
  9. bookchick

    bookchick Out Of The Brooder

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    May 9, 2010
    Orlando
    I only feed from the grub collection bucket, not off the pile.

    I never add chicken manure to my Biopod. I have a separate composter for that and, though the BSF use that too, I don't feed those grubs to the chickens. I let those BSF hatch and keep the population going.
     
  10. animalover

    animalover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2010
    Harrisburg, PA
    Do you know if BSF are in Pennsylvia?
     

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