Raising Earthworms For Chicks

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by RyanAndMeri, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. RyanAndMeri

    RyanAndMeri In the Brooder

    Sep 10, 2007
    We're wondering if anybody has some experience raising either Canadian or European Earthworms as a food for their chickens? Every time we dig in the garden we get a flock of chickens who are waaay too excited to eat all the worms we unearth. Our garden is running out of worms so we're thinking of raising them to add back to the garden.

    I say Canadian or European worms because the red wigglers (garbage/composting worms) may not be as healthy for the birds plus they're surface dwelling and wouldn't last 5 minutes in our garden [​IMG]

    Our chickens LOVE worms and I did read one post that said worms can be bad for the chickens due to parasites or toxin build-up, but we have yet to see it. We don't use pesticides or chemicals on the garden so I think they're pretty clean. I know our chickens wont touch the box elder bugs but they will chase you all over the yard to get a worm from you [​IMG] So I imagine they know what's good for them.

    So - can anybody suggest a worm that is good to raise for chickens and for a healthy garden?
  2. tmk

    tmk Songster

    I don't know how to raise worms other than red wigglers, but once I saw an article about how to get maggots (easy way to get high protein treat?) for chickens.
    My first reaction when I read it was EEeeeeewwww!! [​IMG]
    But it was interesting enough that I may try it one day.

    Earth worms sound so much cuter [​IMG]

    I'd share the maggot info with you if you are interested.
  3. Ace_king_brahma

    Ace_king_brahma Songster

    Mar 14, 2008
    Castroville, Texas
    Quote:I'm considering black soldier flies...if I can find any maggots alive around here. They sale them under the name calciworms. The label has a big: DO NOT REFRIDGERATE notice on the side yet every pet shop around my area pops them in there and of course they are all dead.

    I am currently raising nightcrawlers in a plastic bin. Put nothing more than organic compost and top soil. keep it moist and add food. So far they seem to be happy and getting fat. Once the babies arrive I plan to have treats for my flock.
  4. tmk

    tmk Songster

    Is there a reason why the maggots have to be blak soldier flies?
    Can it be regular flies that fly around us??

    Are nightcrawlers better treat for the chickens than earthworms? I wonder if red wigglers are good treat for chickens (they're not healthy treat??) Because I can get bunch of them from my vermi-compost.
    Please let me know how how your chickens like your night crawler-treat [​IMG]
  5. Ace_king_brahma

    Ace_king_brahma Songster

    Mar 14, 2008
    Castroville, Texas
    Quote:I prefer to go with black soldier flies. The maggots are calcium rich, of good size and if they do get loose they can make breeding grounds less favorable for the common fly. They are also native as well. And there is research that sugguests they are less prone to carry disease. BSF are being used in the ag industry lately to discourage common flies from breeding in manure. The fly is about an inch and looks like a wasp.

    As for the nightcrawlers I went with them for the size. I had some leftover from a fishing trip and dumped them into a bin. My birds have always gone crazy over nightcrawlers so I figured I'll grow them.
  6. RyanAndMeri

    RyanAndMeri In the Brooder

    Sep 10, 2007
    I agree, my reaction when I hear of raising maggots is BLECH!!! But if our chickens found some in the yard I'm sure they'd eat them up. (but I'd rather not know about it!) Maybe I should do some reading on them.

    Nightcrawlers are earthworms.. there are many different types and I've read some sources claiming that certain species are wreaking havoc to hardwood forrests (especially in Minnesota.) I think the ones living in my garden are "Canadian" Nightcrawlers. They take a longer time to multiply & mature, dig very deep and hate the heat. I think they're great but I worry that our hens are thinning them out too much. Since our hens have been eating them their eggs have darker yolks.

    I like the idea of calcium rich bugs like the black soldier flies. Right now we supplement the hens laying mash with spinnach and have a dish with some chopped up oyster shell for calcium. Their eggs are nice and strong but I wonder if all the excess iron from the spinnach is a bad thing in the long run. So with soldier flies, do they bite or sting? They sound like horse flies and I **HATE** horseflies because they can literally take a chunk outta you. Man they suck. [​IMG]

    I have no idea if red wrigglers are good/bad for chickens. Since they eat garbage and reportedly smell bad when you cut them open, I just assume they're not as healthy as some other varieties of worms could be. Plus I can't use them in the garden [​IMG]
  7. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Canadians have their own earthworms, eh?

    I think that red wigglers are likely to be the most productively raised earthworm. It isn't necessary to feed them garbage. You can raise them in decaying leaves and give them the equivalent of chicken feed to eat (there may be something wrong with this picture if you are producing them for chicken feed [​IMG] ).

    My compost pile is filled with red wigglers at the moment. This pile of compost is mostly frost-killed plants from the garden and manure.

    The FAO has reported on research done on the nutritional value of earthworms. Here's some of what they say about earthworms as a poultry feed resource in Nigeria: "In a production site of 25 m2, 1 kg of fresh earthworm biomass was produced daily. This is sufficient to supplement at least 50 chickens with high-quality protein. It must be noted, however, that earthworms (and snails as well) may be important vectors for tapeworms such as Davainea and Raillietina."

    25 m2 = 269 ft2 We aren't talking about a large area but we aren't talking about Nigeria either and I have no idea on how many cubic feet of compostable material went into this area.

  8. Winter

    Winter In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2008
    Isn't there some sort of worm compost that people have in their houses?? I will try to find more info. Perhaps you could use that as a worm farm?
  9. tmk

    tmk Songster

    I thought nightcrawlers are those with tiny legs that you use for fishing!

    Do nightcrawlers multiply or just getting big?

    I make compost with red wigglers in the rubbermaid storage bin with holes drilled on all 6 sides. They seem to multiply by the time the compost is ready, so yes, it is kind like a worm farm.
    I give them kitchen scraps (veggies only) and they eat what grow on them.
    The ordor is not bad at all if you don't load the bin up with too much scraps. We keep the box in our garage and no one even notices it's there.

    Maggots are just so creepy to me I don't know if I can get brave enough to handle them...even it is for my chickens!

    If red wigglers are good treat for the birds, they are the easiest thing for me to give.

    The thing about the tapeworms, is that only the problem for the worms that were raised for fish bait?
  10. Bubba

    Bubba Songster

    Jun 18, 2007
    Nightcrawlers are a pain to grow because each one has its own burrow and thats where it lives. There are many types of earthworms that would be better suited for you. Most earthworms just constantly burrow around in the soil, compost, manure etc not Nightcrawlers. You may want to look into growing crickets and meal worms also. You can grow both in bulk with stuff you get from your garden/land. I raise pillbugs (sow bugs) for my birds. They are super easy to grow, multiply pretty fast, have a ton of calcium to boot and only use compost or dying plant matter. I grow misquitos (sp) for my fish, no I don't have a ton of them flying around my house either.


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