Mealworms: live vs. dried

Discussion in 'Quail' started by DoubletakeFarm, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. DoubletakeFarm

    DoubletakeFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2013
    NE Ohio
    I raise mealworms for my birds and now with all the quail I can't keep up with the demand. I was thinking of switching to the dried mealworms because I can pick those up at TSC, rather than having to order live ones and have them shipped. I've always used live because I thought it was better for the birds. TSC says the dried ones have 56.58% protein which is a lot higher than I thought it would be. So maybe dried is just as good as live? What do you think?
    1 person likes this.
  2. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2009
    Goshen, OH
    It depends on if you were adding nutrition to the live ones (called a gut load) or not. The dead ones are dehydrated, empty stomach contents (less overall nutrition compared to live/gut loaded) which is how that protein gets so high.

    I use the dry as a treat to bring them home easier, but I don't rely on them to be the main protein source because they don't have any other nutrients in them. If that makes sense. You can give live ones a gut load of high protein starter or game feed, and sprinkle with calcium (for reptiles) to give to layers. Then simply serve less of them, to spread your supply a little farther.

    If you're raising them they should have gut loads. It's the live ones that are store bought that do not have a gut load.

    Or just mix the dried with the live, and give both, reducing what is coming out of your bins.
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    I used to feed the live worms, but have switched to the dry. The birds definitely prefer the live ones, but as far as nutritionally, I never saw a difference in the birds appearance. I do know that sometimes the live worms can harbor virus's and such and the drying process does cook that out of them. I just prefer the dried because it is easier.
  4. wayne hulgan

    wayne hulgan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2011
    we feed our chicks meal worms, the live ones. thought we would switch to the freeze dried ones. Our chicks will not eat the dry ones. guess they are a little too pampered.
  5. Sycamore27

    Sycamore27 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2013
    Durham, NC
    The main reason the protein looks so high the nutritional analysis (I guessing, on the assumption it's the same type my feed store carries) is because it's measured by weight rather than serving size. The protein is higher on the whole, because it will be less mass to eat so they can consume more of them, just be careful they don't gorge on them and watch that your water supply stays constant as they may drink more. They will not be gut loaded, but if you're feeding them as a supplement to an otherwise nutritionally complete feed this shouldn't be a big issue. They are likely to have more nutrition in their gut than shipped worms do out of the box as they may have been dried on site rather than flown somewhere else without food, though there's no way to know that unless they make a statement about gut loading on the packaging.

    The biggest problem I have seen in my experience with various different types of insect eating creatures is convincing them that a non-moving insect is still food. If they recognize the shape of a meal worm I would expect they wouldn't notice it not moving in their mad dash to be the first to grab it. For babies just learning that meal worms are food you may be well served to break them into a few pieces and sprinkle them over the normal ration to make it easier for them to get the idea.

  6. DoubletakeFarm

    DoubletakeFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2013
    NE Ohio
    Interesting, thanks for the replies. I'm going to try them and see how it goes. I have a feeling they won't be as excited to get them as the live ones, like Wayne said; too pampered. But I supposed dried is better than nothing. I have to say I feel like a bad "mom" not giving them live ones!
  7. NerdyBirdy

    NerdyBirdy Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2013
    Chicago, Illinois
    I was surprised when I switched my buttons to dried, they really didn't show a preference and I figured I'd stick to the dry since they're easier to store (bugs in the fridge were frowned upon).

  8. DoubletakeFarm

    DoubletakeFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2013
    NE Ohio
    Well, the quail won't eat them. They tried them and walked away. I can't really blame them, there isn't anything there just a dried up shell of a mealworm. I can't see how it would have any nutrition to it. Back to live....
  9. markop50

    markop50 New Egg

    Jan 29, 2012
    My comma button isn't working so forgive me and my short choppy sentences and lack of correct punctuation.

    Happy New Year everyone! I'm glad I found this this topic. I decided to start with the live worms. Needless to say they loved em. After the third order I decided to try the dried ones. They are less expensive and don't have the odor issues (I feed my live worms carrots oats celery). When I threw a handful down they raced toward them and started pecking at them. They broke up into tiny pieces. The chickens then looked up at me with that "this isn't working for us" look. I went back later and they had eaten all of the dried worm bits. So the chickens ate them but they certainly lack the enthusiasm they once had. Therefore not so much fun to feed them the worms. I agree with an earlier post that mentioned that there were no guts just a crispy shell. No gooey cream filled center. The other concern I have with the dried worms is that there is no mention of where they come from.. Who grew them and what did they feed the worms as they matured? Were they grown in China and shipped here? Inquiring minds want to know. With live ones I figure they would have to be raised here. Anyways my two cents....
  10. CrazyFish

    CrazyFish Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 12, 2014
    The first time I treated my chicks to live mealworms, they went bonkers. But you are right, the price is too high. So, I switched to dried mealworms (ordered in the mail-51% protein) and they never knew the difference-wiggle or no wiggle, they could not get enough of them. It's not like they had to find them moving around in the dirt, I mean, my chicks were a captive audience and immediately started eating them to a frenzy. I say give them[​IMG] a shot. I'll still buy live ones once in a blue moon, just to make it special, but for the common treat, the dried ones seem perfect.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by