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Has Anyone Figured out How Much it Costs to Grow Mealworms?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sierranomad, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. sierranomad

    sierranomad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I kow how much my feed costs, and am considering raising mealworms. But how much does it cost, say to raise, a pound (or some other useful measurement) of mealworms? I'm assuming it costs less than purchasing them, but want to make sure that it's worth the trouble and time.

    Thank you,

    Jon
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Good question. I didn't calculate my actual costs but I can say I gave up raising them because it felt that the return was not worth the expense. When I started, the bedding of choice for them was recommended to be wheat bran. Now, where I grew up, you could buy a kilo of wheat bran for under 50c so that seemed like a great option to me. However when I went looking for it here in the US....I couldn't find it anywhere. I asked at several feed stores - they didn't know what I was talking about. I finally did find a small bag of wheat germ in the organic section of the supermarket. Let's say.....6-8oz bag - and they wanted $6 for it!!!!

    So I used oatmeal instead. The cost of oatmeal here doubled a few years ago - not sure why. I used to be able to buy the big canister for under $2 but it jumped almost overnight to about $3.85 per canister. And, the mealworms could go through a canister pretty quickly. Then I'd have to dump it out and open a fresh canister and.....the costs kept going up. Then there was having to feed them: potatoes, apples, carrots. I draw the line at buying food at the grocery store for my chickens - yet there I was feeding the mealworms food that I had had to buy.

    And, in the two years or so that I raised them.....I was not getting a significant number of mealworms. Enough to give the chickens a handful as a treat every other week - but not enough to make a difference in the feed bill. Not even close.

    So - for me it wasn't worth it from a purely practical point of view. That is not to say I didn't get enjoyment out of watching the worms pupate, then emerge as beetles and then eventually, to find tiny little newborn worms and watch them grow. I did. But as a cost-saving measure? I couldn't make the numbers work for me.

    Now on another forum I did read just this week where someone is using dried out bedding from sheep and goats (the poop mixed with the straw or hay) as the bedding for his mealworm farm. If you have access to a source of free substrate for them....it may be worth experimenting. I raise sheep and goats so I briefly considered starting another colony of mealworms. But then I remembered the time it takes to continually separate out the pupae and beetles from the worms and the need to find a good place to keep them where they are not to hot, not too cold etc., and decided to leave the past in the past [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. sierranomad

    sierranomad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks HEChicken. You just saved me a lot of trouble.
     
  4. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have wondered the same thing, I would love to see more info on this too, most mealworm for sale in my area came from China.
     
  5. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raise composting worms. Unlike the mealworms, one does not have to purchase anything. They get the stuff in the refrigerator that has gone off, coffee grinds, tea remains, some shredded paper, mainly as an insulation, dried leaves, Palm fronds, weeds...just about anything. Non organic banana had them trying to escape, and I added too much chicken poo that just about killed them off, even though I thought it was well aged (1 year, but dry). Citrus is too acidic, so only tiny quantities with other stuff. I have even poured in soured milk!

    I started with small containers, but now use old garbage cans. I am still trying to increase my stock, so the chickens only get a handful occasionally, but I also move some to my various vegetable garden containers. The recommendation is about 2lbs of worms per square foot of surface area, so garbage cans are not ideal...need less depth than width and length. I have a design for a hanging bag, but have been too chicken to make it! Sewing machines scare me...
     
  6. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is an idea for outdoor compose bin 1) Drill fill several holes 2-4x the size of the worm at the bottom and lower side of the 5 gal bucket with lid. 2) Dig a hole about 10-14" deep and put the 5gal bucket into the ground. 3) Fill the bucket with some dirt, and crap left over that chicken don't eat, leaf, and add the composing worm. I think you got the idea.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
  7. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Be careful feeding earthworms to chickens. Earthworms can be carriers of gapeworm and transmit it to the unlucky chicken who eats that particular worm. I've had one chicken with gapeworm and it is not pretty - there is practically nothing you can do for them other than euthanize. In my case she found the worm herself while out free-ranging, as I never feed worms to the birds, but I never would after seeing her suffer.

    I used to raise composting worms in the house when I lived in the city. It was pretty cool watching how fast they could devour some of my compostables. But any more, rather than keep a separate container around that has to be maintained, I simply take my compostable materials and direct bury them in my veggie garden (year round). The worms find the stuff there, eat it, and leave me worm castings to fertilize my garden in return. Doing this encourages a large, thriving population of worms to live in the veggie garden and occasionally when I dig I'll come across a site where compost was previous buried. I can tell because I'll find a sticker that had been left on a banana peel. But typically that is the only clue - and sometimes it is only weeks after burial.
     
  8. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the chickens have access to the whole yard, so if they are going to get parasites, I can't control that. I do have a very healthy earthworm population that feeds off the leaf matter and dead stuff in the yard. My composting worms consume different stuff. Composting worms work faster than regular earthworms. If I put that stuff out in the yard, instead of containers, it will just draw in rodents, possums, raccoons, and feed the ants, too. The chickens will dig through it, which is also bad. My worm compost cans are covered, and they do not attract anything that I don't want hanging around looking for a free meal. I even only feed the chickens enough for a single day. I never leave feed enough for them, although I suspect rats might be eating chicken poop...the dogs sure love eating it :rolleyes: yuk.:sick
     
  9. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't just put it out in the yard - I bury it in the veggie garden. Even if my veggie garden were not fenced to keep the chickens out, they wouldn't see it to dig through it and I haven't had any issues with any other critters getting in and eating it either. I understand the red wigglers are specialized for composting - just offering an alternative to having another container of critters that need to be tended [​IMG]
     
  10. AthenaT

    AthenaT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    started my mealworm farm yesterday...cost for me was cheap..3 dozen nice fat .mealworms cost me $4.00 at pet store, bran from feed store was $7 for a huge bag...had a cracked plastic tote I drilled with air holes so free. !/2 a egg carton was free...5 slices of carrot and 1/8th an apple....will keep track of how many my "Krewe" get as treats. Also started a worm farm and a cricket farm...total cost out of pocket was under $20 and that is how much a bag of freeze dried meal worms cost at the local feed store....all are outside in the shade of elephant ear alley with the fermenting feed experiment...all the containers are vented and weighted with old pavers to keep varmints out.If all works out well I will build a simple box to house all those containers.
     

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