Mealworms and chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bob869007, May 1, 2017.

  1. bob869007

    bob869007 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2012
    Southern Oregon
    Since we have started building up a small hobby farm, just rabbits and chickens so far. Our place was all timber so we don't even have garden beds yet. Starting it all with compost, worms, rabbits and chickens. As we started to build a "farm plan" so to speak we wanted to be as self sufficient as possible. I thought hey we could raise mealworms. The mealworms could eat the dehydrated rabbit poop, which they absolutely love, the mealworms get fed to the chickens all for the price of rabbit feed which we will continue to buy until we can grow it. So me being me, and having the mind of a military retiree, I wanted to know as much as I could about mealworms and chickens. What I found was enough for me to completely scrap my idea. The mealworms were all sold off as reptile food and will never be feed to my chickens ever again. There was a study publish by Stellenbosch University. The study was conducted to see if there was any possibility of the backyard farmer to feed their chickens off of insects they could raise on there own. Conclusion was that mealworms caused erosion of the gizzard lining over extended periods of use. The study did prove that Black Soldier Fly Larvae is safe.

    Here is the link:
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicks are a-hatching Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Interesting. I have read enough bad things about feeding meal worms to not ever buy any. Chickens can consume too much protein which can be deadly. Free ranging and a diverse diet, with constant access to a bagged ration is a better way for me. Chickens are omnivores.
    JimNKC and bob869007 like this.
  3. bob869007

    bob869007 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2012
    Southern Oregon
    I agree I have 10 10 week old RIR pullets from the feed store give away. I got all 10 for free for buying chicken feed. They live in a coop in my front yard. They feed in my lawn and rest in the bushes out front. Works great they're foraging all day. I give them some feed in the morning to get them going and they do there thing. My main flock forages all day as well. I only feed the main flock in the evening when they locked up for the night. My OEGs I have in a breeding pen. I am trying to increase my flock to create a clan breeding program along with some new chicks I'm going to get in a few months.

    Honestly, I had not read anything negative about mealworms. I could be late to the dance on this one but thought others should know if they didn't. I had a great plan until good information screwed it up :)
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  4. maya.fh

    maya.fh Just Hatched

    Jun 13, 2017
    Same as bob869007 - my understanding was that mealworms are a great addition to a well-rounded diet. Of course, not as the main source of nutrition, but as a great snack or treat.
  5. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2014
    Portland, Oregon
    My chooks LOVE mealworms as a little treat and incentive to "go to bed, now!"
  6. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    That was a rather brief paper, though very lay-reader unfriendly. It did not state at what ratio to the rest of the diet the meal worms were fed. I'd be interested in knowing at what concentration the study group were getting meal worm meal.

    One important detail may have been missed by our OP : the meal worms achieved their corrosive properties upon being dried and processesed into a meal.

    Here's the pertinent portion:

    "The mealworms caused significant (P < 0.05) gizzard erosion, whereas the others did not. The erosion may have been due to the high histidine content of the mealworms, which may have been transformed into histamine thereby causing erosion. Histidine may have also been transformed into gizzerosine, a potent inducer of gizzard erosion, during the drying process. The erosion observed may have also been due to the presence and form of chitin in the mealworms. Chitin is structurally similar to fibre, which was presented in a coarse form. Coarse fibres have been shown to increase the acidity of gizzard contents, which may lead to gizzard erosion. "

    Therefore, I think we should conclude the study did not find live meal worms to be harmful, only dried and processed ones, and I would also assume the consumption would have had to be pretty highly concentrated to become harmful.
    maya.fh likes this.
  7. orchardflock

    orchardflock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2017
    Interesting. I'm contemplating raising mealworms right now for a variety of reasons. I agree, dried ground mealworms do not seem like they would be the same as live meal worms.
  8. Space Coast Mealworms

    Space Coast Mealworms Just Hatched

    Nov 6, 2017
    I love reading scientific findings on Mealworms. The Open Bug Farm Forum is where I usually get my geek on!

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