Does anyone farm snails to feed their chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Sire12, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. Sire12

    Sire12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started my own mealworm farm last month and my 3 hens absolutely love them, can you farm snails for them as easily as you can with mealworms? Does anyone do that, I would love to farm black soldier fly as they seem to be the perfect bug for them but we don't get them over here :( and it would be too cold to import any which really sucks cause BSF larvae look perfect as treats, and crickets creep me out too much and I heard they can smell lol so apart from mealworms I'd like to get another bug farm going.. So are snails a good option? Or suggestions for any other kind of insect to breed, thanks
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Have you considered fish? What is native to Ireland and legal to raise? Would require tanks of several feet in diameter or even a pond. More expensive to be sure for setup but you will be able to raise some animal protein with less labor that required for most insect culture. Otherwise, meal worms are tough to be beat when comes to converting grain to edible meat.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    The reason I skirted around snails is the aquatic versions with shells I deal with are difficult to raise in bulk. The terrestrial slugs seem to have some regulatory mechanism (disease) that hits them well before you might have enough biomass to harvest from.
     
  4. Sire12

    Sire12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I actually had considered farming red cherry shrimp in a tank for them! Apparently they breed quite fast and are hardy, but I'm not sure if they would be ok for chickens to eat
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    With respect to nutritional content, the shrimp will be good. Tank raised they probably will not pose same risk crustaceans I raise in ponds might pose to chickens where the parasites harbored that normally go after fish eating birds and mammals can kill species not adapted to them.

    Are your birds free-range kept, even a little? If yes, then you might be a able make a large compost heap that will provide edible inverts year round in Ireland. Toss a little grain on top. Allow birds for only an hour each day. Make heap larger than what might otherwise be used for a typical garden or yard. You want large amounts of surface area birds can work.
     
  6. Sire12

    Sire12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep I have a compost heap I started a few months back for that purpose :) I'm putting the used guinea pig bedding on it along with any twigs and branches they spend maybe an hour a day picking round it, they're free range all day too :) do you think the red cherry shrimp would be ok for them? I actually wanted a fish tank a while ago so that would satisfy my want for that lol and they are cold water too so won't need a heater, might not even need a filter since they are algae eaters and very hardy so as long as they are safe for them to eat they should be pretty much ideal, they also breed like crazy to the point where tank owners say they can be a problem, or at least from what I remember when I was looking into getting a tank
     
  7. Sire12

    Sire12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm I just looked up whether they could eat red cherry shrimp and couldn't find anything, only forums of people asking if they can eat cooked shrimp or shrimp shells / tails etc can't find any info as to whether they can eat live tank grown shrimp, I did find one comment from a person who said he fed their chickens some live shrimp and they loved it but their eggs smelled and tasted like shrimp so that's something I'd be scared of :( maybe il just stick with the mealworms and let them forage their own bugs through the day
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Mine will consume live glass shrimp and small crayfish that half the size of a large grasshopper. Consumption should not be a problem. The funny taste of eggs will require the consumption of a lot of cherry shrimp, more than you are likely to raise.

    How much indoor or greenhouse floor space do you have for rearing the shrimp? You will have supplemental lighting issues at you latitude and heating will be a problem. I would use old stock tanks that are blasted with light and provided with a little supplemental aeration. Then you will have to devise a harvesting system that is sustainable.

    Have you ever bred aquatic animals before? Especially in mass? Even though they are to a large degree herbivorous, you will have to add other things to tank that keep plant bloom going and possibly be prepared to step in when bloom crashes which is will.
     
  9. Sire12

    Sire12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Update : I'm getting black soldier flys afterall! The only thing that put me off before was I didn't think it was warm enough here in the UK but apparently if you keep them in a greenhouse, which I have, they will be fine over winter! I'm so stoked, I didn't realize how incredible these things were - the flys are pollinators and have no mouths so they will pollinate your plants and NOT eat them! :D and the larvae (that I now know are called calci worms) are full of calcium aswell as protein so perfect for laying hens! And also the larvae will eat ANYTHING they are tough little guys and can eat alot of stuff that red worms can't! It's pretty sad that I'm so stoked over getting an insect farm going haha but BSF are the bomb seriously xD
     

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