Mealworms and my chickens ??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by barbara4rb, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi,
    I found a HowToDo mealworms here on the forum, and in May set up a container w/ ~20 worms. Now have had beetles and now am getting worms. LOTS of worms. The worms were in poultry mash, and I have been keeping apple-halves in for moisture.

    When should I give my free range birds some mealworms? They're getting bugs now, but still hungry for scratch. They did enjoy a watermelon recently too.

    I'm expecting them to wet their pants with excitment over these worms! :))) Just not sure if I should save the worms for when it gets cold. ???

    Also, it is a bad idea to just throw the mash with worms in them? It seems like this old mash is a bad idea. Wouldn't want any tummy aches.
     
  2. priszilla

    priszilla Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2008
    easley sc
    I would start giving them a few- without the spent feed- keep the mealies going. I want to start some up- but I have so much going on I am not sure I would keep them alive
     
  3. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Im trying to start my own mealworm farm too. How long did it take you to get beetles?
     
  4. Gazinga

    Gazinga Chook Norris

    im looking to start a farm too, any info would help
     
  5. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

  6. barbara4rb

    barbara4rb Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Oct 22, 2007
    Albuquerque, NM
    Happy to help. Below are the directions I've been following, which I found here on the forum.

    I set my box up in May, the worms became beetles about mid-late June. I was about to throw it all away by 3rd week of July because I *thought* I had no worms. HA! They were very tiny and once I dug around abit, found them. They were maybe 1/4" long and very thin.

    I bought my box at The Dollar Store ($2) and drilled 40 holes in the top. It is the Sterilite letter size hanging folder box. I used poultry mash and kept the apples (or banana peels) in and left it outside under the patio table.

    Here's a shot of the box today:
    [​IMG]

    Hard to get shot of the worms. I can see the top layer of the mash "move" as the worms are moving around.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a close up shot
    [​IMG]

    The box smells alittle bit, and I had problems with rain wetting the mash--> mold. :-(> Also a ton of fruit flies and little bugs in it too.

    I think I'll get the worms out into plastic containers/fresh mash and refrig. them. Clean out the box and start a new colony. I liked the idea posted recently (Easy Mealworms) of using wheat bran that is baked first to kill any freeloading bugs. Also will probably use cheese cloth to keep the fruit flies out.






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    Very cheap and lots of nutrition for your chicks and chickens.

    Raising Your Own Mealworms
    1. Find a clear plastic container with approximately six-inch high sides. It may be the size of one to three square feet. For ventilation, drill about forty 1/4 inch holes in the lid. If condensation occurs, drill even more holes, or cover the container with a screen.

    2. Put about three inches of one part chick starter (or laying mash) and one part wheat bran (optional) in the container. Mix well and level it. This is food for your newly hatched mealworms.

    3. Cut an apple in half. Turn the round side down and push it down into the feed until flush with the feed and bran mixture. This is to give them moisture. If the skin of the apple is removed, the moisture in it will get into your feed and will spoil it. For this reason, do not peel your apples. Check your cultures every week to make sure they aren't out of apples.

    4. Add thirty to forty mealworms per square foot of container. Get them from your friends, or you can find them in a farmer's feed building, usually under his feed bags. They can also be bought. Add four layers of unprinted paper such as the regular brown grocery bags. Put paper on top of the feed mixture, apple halves, and mealworms. Mealworms love to hide between the layers of paper. I record the date I start each culture on the top layer of paper.

    5. Store such a started culture at room temperature, or warmer. These mealworms will each turn into a pupa, then the pupa will turn into a beetle. These beetles will mate, then lay their eggs between the paper and feed. After this, the beetles die. This is their complete life cycle. Soon, you'll see many tiny mealworms when you run your fingers through the top of the feed. They will produce up to 3,000 worms per square foot of container. This complete cycle will take only two to three months, if your culture is stored at, or slightly above, room temperature. Temperature plays a big role in the length of the beetle's life cycle. I start a new culture every month. This strategy keeps me in plenty of worms.

    6. Replace the apples whenever they are completely eaten or half spoiled. After the young mealworms are seen, keep two halves, rather than only one half apple, per square foot of container. Keeping plenty of moisture (apples) available keeps the worms growing faster. Potatoes also work, but apples work better because they supply more moisture for the worms.

    7. Put fully grown worms into another well-vented container with only some feed and a bit of apple. Store these in a cool place, or even in the refrigerator. This delays them from turning into pupae for up to six months. Set container out to room temperature for one day every week to allow the worms to feed.



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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2008

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