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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by MED747, Sep 13, 2011.
Can I feed mealworms daily as treats
Only if you want to become insanely popular with your flock.
Haha ok that's what I kinda figured
Has any one had experience raising meal worms? As I understand it, you need to keep the beetles in a secure environment at ideal temperature. Is it worth the effort to raise ones own, or just better to purchase from a local pet store?
I give mine treats per week, treats are usually magots and wax worms from the fish store.
Quote:It's insanely easy to raise them. Look at the link in my sig line and also check out the mealworm thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=492636&p=149
I raise my own mealworms. They are very low maintenence and extremely prolific if you raise them correctly. Basically you need 3 main containers because mealworms are cannibals and they will eat their own eggs and pupae (vulnerable stages). When a bin gets crowded I usually keep a fourth container specifically for pupae, but it is very small - usually a large jar with a screen on top suffices with some shavings. Something you can stick your hand into and pull out the beetles as they transition from pupae to beetle form. The adult beetles are flightless and do not make noise but can have an odor - very mild and hard to describe - guess you could say it smells like stale wood when the pen(s) need cleaning.
Here is my basic setup: 3 large storage bins with locking lids that I bought cheap from a local grocery outlet, with the tops cut out and mesh attached to the plastic perimeter of the old lid. This screen/mesh is to provide maximum ventilation and to keep my infatuated cats out. I thus far have never had issues with mealworm escapes and I've had them for 3 years, so keep in mind that the mesh is mostly to keep meddling creatures out and not to keep the bugs in. I used half inch mesh. Anyway, I keep each tub filled about 1/5 to 1/4 of the way with white pine shavings, sprinkled liberally on top with oatmeal and then that is accompanied by a couple slices of carrot or slices of potato. I prefer carrot slices because they don't mold as easily. I refresh their veggie supply weekly (taking out the old stuff - which they usually bury under the shavings) and give more oatmeal as needed. On the very top of everything I lay a paper towel, which I mist daily in hot weather, every other day in mild weather. The only thing you must avoid with mealworms is a musty, moldy environment. They need good ventilation.
Temperature isn't so much of a problem if you keep them inside. Obviously they are not fond of freezing temperatures and this can kill them. However, a temperature range from 40-90 degrees F suits are all liveable conditions, although the cooler extremes are "surviveable" and NOT "thriveable" temperatures and they cannot exist at these temperatures indefinitely. Optimally they do best at 70-80, but mine do o.k. at 60. At 70 degrees their entire lifecycle is completed in about 6 months. If they are cold little buggies then their lifecycle can take much much longer (a year or more). So, they would be most happy if you keep them inside - although I would suggest somewhere where a lot of people won't notice because I have found that several of my friends are a big grossed out by my live mealworm collection, or "maggots" as some people refer to them.
Now for the nitty gritty on who goes in what bin. Okay, first I'd like to explain that mealworm eggs are very small. I have never personally been able to spot them, but I have been told they exist in the fine particulate matter at the very bottom of the mealworm bin (which otherwise consists of oatmeal dust and mealworm poop - which, by the way, makes excellent compost). So here is what I do: when I first started I kept all my worms in one bin (bin #1). Then, as they morphed into adults, I placed them in bin #2 that was set up for them. I would place them in bin #2 for about 1-2 months and then stop putting beetles in bin #2. This is because I want to give them enough time to breed and die. It is important for the babies to have adult beetle carcasses to feed off of for protein and calcium, but not have competition from adults. So then I put beetles from the original bin into bin #3 until the original bin is empty. Clean the original bin and start the cycle over again. Oh, and as for cleaning, you can keep the shavings and reuse them if you wish. Only the fine powder at the bottom really needs to be dumped. Sounds complicated but it's really quite easy when you get the hang of it. Honestly, the hardest part is the setup.
I have found that the above method has yeilded me thousands of mealworms. You can keep all the bugs in just one box together but they will cannibilize and you will find that their population will stabalize at somewhat lower numbers, maybe up in the low thousands if you have a big enough box - but in my experience chickens can go through thousands of mealworms easily
Anyway, hope this helps and happy mealworm raising.
Edited to add: looks like there is some good advise on the links before my post! They've been raising the bugs longer than I...
I got some yesterday and in 2 minutes I had two birds eating out of my hand. They were the dried kind but they still loved um.
they are like chicken crack...
Quote:Thanks so much! Your description is easy to understand. I am going to give it a try.