MEALWORMS - Raising Them the Easy Way

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by joebryant, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    RAISING MEALWORMS THE EASY WAY
    by Joe D. Bryant

    Revised August 3, 2006


    You will need to gather the following before you begin



    --- One RUBBERMAID - Jumbo Storage Box - 50 gallons - 42.7 X 21.4 X18.0 (Sells for about $15 at Lowes and Menards, about $16 with wheels)

    Note: The container must be opaque because mealworms must be raised in the dark.

    --- One 50# bag of WHEAT BRAN - about $10 from any feed store, and bake what you need as you need it in an oven until it's all hot enough to destroy any eggs of mealy bugs, especially if you fear your wife's wrath as much as I do. I store my extra in the bag in my chest freezer until I need more for the mealworms.

    --- 2 paper grocery sacks (cut off the bottom, cut up the sides, and fold in half and put on top
    --- CARROTS (whole) and/or potatoes cut in half, cut side down (make three columns lengthwise). They must have these for moisture. Carrots are much easier to work with and don’t cost that much more than potatoes.

    --- 1,000 large, 1,000 medium, 1,000 small MEALWORMS Order them from www.reptilefood.com for about $25 including shipping and handling

    Pour four to six inches of wheat bran into the container (add more later when you see that they need it), put the carrots/potatoes on top, dump all the mealworms on top, cover them with the grocery sack paper, and do nothing until the large mealworms turn into white, motionless grub that then turn into beetles. Once you have several hundred beetles, start collecting/using large mealworms that crawl between the folded paper by sliding them into a container. Do this every other day whether you need them or not; they can be kept indefinitely in a ventilated container in the refrigerator. Mealworms being kept in the refrigerator should be taken out for two or three hours each week so that they can be fed wheat bran and watered with carrots. Don't bother with the dead beetles; the baby worms will suck them dry, and their body parts will sift to the bottom of the container along with the feces dust and molting skins that the mealworms produce from eating the wheat bran.
    Notes:
    1. Don't use egg crates, etc., they're a pain in the neck. With the paper sacks, you can slide the large mealworms into a container easily. Carrots leave only a long, hard core; they and the dried potato skins should be removed occasionally.
    2. For some reason that I cannot explain, only the large worms crawl into the folded paper once the process starts. Stay up with removing most (not all) of them, or you will have a million mealworms on your hands in a very short time, and an odor will develop. That happened to me, and a million mealworms is not an exaggeration. Each pair of beetles will produce several hundred babies. Figure it out for yourself, 60 beetles will produce several hundred babies for each of 30 days in a month, SO STAY UP WITH THEM.
    3. Keep the container in a heated room during spring and summer, but store in a cool garage when you will not need mealworms. Heat and moisture are needed for growth. During the summer, I just lay the lid over the top; during the winter, the handles of the Rubbermaid Jumbo Box have vent holes that provide all the ventilation they need. Mealworms will multiply at temperatures ranging from 65 - 100 degrees F. The optimum seems to be about 80 degrees. I keep my house at about 74 degrees during the summer. I only keep them inside because it's more convenient.

    4. Remember that this is not rocket science; the mealworms know what they’re supposed to do and will do what they’re supposed to do. All you have to do is be sure that they always have enough wheat bran and carrots.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Forks, Virginia
    I got my meal worm beattles from Ace yesterday. They are happily farming a container filled with wheat bran and potato halves. [​IMG]
     
  3. Ace_king_brahma

    Ace_king_brahma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The large ones crawl up to prepare to molt into pupa. Nice set of instructions here! The only thing I would not do is allow those skins and dead beetles to sit there. It builds up especially when they hit the thousands! At first they did sift to the bottom but once you have thousands the movement of large worms often brings skins to the top or prevents them from sifting downward. And then the bin really starts to smell if you don't clean those out. And it attracts ants eventually. And after a few months sift the bran to get as many worms out and replace the bedding/food.

    Hope you enjoy the bugs Miss Prissy!
     
  4. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am actually raising mealworms because I WANT the waste. Between mealworm poop, my earthworm castings, and composted chicken manure, I should heave all the additives that I need to make some great potting soil (I also have coir bales on order). But for anyone that has mealworms, there is apparently a huge mealworm shortage going on. You may be able to sell off some of them!
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Hiedi

    Hiedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I noticed some worms in my compost pile recently. There are hundreds of them, but I am not sure what kind of worm it is. I am positive they are not maggots. They are about 3/4 inch long, segmented looking bodies, and are tan in color. Could this be meal worms?
     
  6. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mealworms don't usually live in compost piles... is yours a cold compost or hot? If they look like mealworms, they could also be wire worms (the ones that put holes in potatos). Could you post a picture?
     
  7. Hiedi

    Hiedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yeah, after looking at some images online of a mealworm, I realize these are probably not mealworms. I am not really sure what you mean by "hot or cold compost". Here is the picture:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2008
  8. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Geez, I have NO idea of what that is! Definitely not a mealie!

    A hot compost is one that you keep turning and it gets very hot inside (which kills weed seeds and some disease pathogens). It cooks the compost. A cold compost you just pile the stuff up and it eventually breaks down, but takes a lot longer. When my compost is cooking, at -30F the snow melts off of the top and it's still steaming and hot inside.
     
  9. Scrambled Egg

    Scrambled Egg Flock Mistress

    Aug 29, 2007
    Fayetteville, NC
    I've never seen one stretched out like that but it could be in the family of grub worms..japanese beetle larvae...if it's a grub, even my dachshund loves to eat those, so the chickens will love them. The are normally whiter in color here though but I am guessing it is some kind of beetle larvae like the grub/jap. beetle.
     
  10. Hiedi

    Hiedi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:OK...thanks for the information. We turn the compost pile, but not as often as I would like. There is a layer of grass clippings on the top and black plastic over the top of that. We just move the grass and add stuff underneath, then pile the grass back of top.
     

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