Great protein source, but not for the squeemish or urban flock

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by BugGuy, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. BugGuy

    BugGuy In the Brooder

    Mar 2, 2014
    Some of you may find this a bit "over the top", but cutting feed costs and increasing protein intake for my flock was the motivation for my actions. Summer is just about upon us in the northland again and I have discovered a pretty good way to get good insect protein to my flock for almost no cost and very little effort. However, this takes some intestinal fortitude and open space for it to work. I have 7 acres that the girls can forage on and my closest neighbor is a quarter of a mile away, which will be important as we go along. As an experiment, I took an 18 inch X 24 inch X 4 inch plastic tote and drilled some pencil sized holes around the bottom. I secured the cover on top so the girls couldn't get inside and placed this tote on the top of the chicken run. I put some left over meat scraps inside and let nature take it's course. The decomposing material attracted the usual carrion insects of flies, beetles, and other scavenges. These adult insects would crawl around the tote and eventually fall into the run where they were quickly eaten. The maggots from the tote upon completion of their feeding activities would crawl out the holes in an effort to find soil to pupate in, and when they did, the hens were right there to greet them. (Keep in mind that maggots produce an antibiotic secretion that prevents bacteria and other microbes from harming them and have been used in medical proceedures. Google it and you will see.) As soon as the maggots would fall to the ground the hens were right there. As per my personality, I decided that a small tote just wasn't big enough. I now have a location where I can turn sizable amounts of animal flesh into insect protein for my flock. It am able to convert an entire deer (road kill) into usable chicken protein with my setup and I only have to spend a minute or two placing the carcass in the container. The rest is done automatically. The entire enterprise cost me less than 10 bucks and I can't tell you how many pounds of protein my girls get from this. I don't want my girls getting into the container or having access to the material inside so I used chicken wire as a skirt around the container to keep them out. However, the girls really like hanging out on top of the container and scratching around the container eating whatever nature provides. There is no smell on my girls as I use a tube from the bottom of the container to take liquids away that I buried about 2 ft in the ground for drainage. I covered the opening of the tube with window screen to prevent any maggots from getting away. The station is at the same level as the tailgate of my truck, so when I need to change it out, all I need to do is disconnect the tube, slide the container into the truck bed, and drive out to the dump site. This station is at least 100 yards from the roost and even further from the house for obvious reasons. It might sound gross, but it is a popular stopping point for the whole flock throughout the day as they check for morsels often. The only down side I have found for this is when I need to clean the container out and start a new cycle. In my opinion, the 2 minutes of exposure to the smell every 2 weeks or so is more than worth the benefits for my girls. It might not be for everyone, but if you have the space and disposition, it might help get that all to important protein, into your flock.


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