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Raising Mealworms.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by PoultryParadise, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. PoultryParadise

    PoultryParadise Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2010
    So I've decided to raise meal worms as supplements for my button quail, and treats for the chickies and ferret. So I was just wondering if anyone else raises meal worms and if they have any words of wisdom. Hopefully I can learn from your mistakes so I make less myself.
    I have a few questions though:
    1: What tpe of bedding do you prefer, cornmeal, wheat bran, or other?
    2: What source of moisture do you prefer, carrot, potato, or other?
    3: At what point is the best time to seperate pupa, beetles? When there is a few or do I wait till there is a bunch?
    4: How often do I do a complete clean out of the bedding?
    5: Are pupa good in the same bedding as worms? How bout beetles.

    All help is more than appreciated, thanks in advance
  2. featherbaby

    featherbaby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    Jacksonville, FL 32210
    Check out the Search key and type in mealworms, there is quite a bit of info. Also you could go to "INDEX" and do the same.
  3. gumbii

    gumbii Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2010
    bell gardens, ca
    i have talked to some people in the gecko forum that just throw them in a big rubbermaid container together with no problems... but there will be some cannibalism... i guess when there is so much room you don't have to worry about having a couple missing...

    i have mine in a small three drawer plastic thingie... smaller than the ones that they usually use... half the size... 5 bucks at walmart... but i don't need that many... i get about 1,000 worms a week with this setup... and use the worm filter... let me find a link for you...

    this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTjv5fek0-s

    works wonders... for the beetles, i use whole oats... the cheap stuff... the mealworms themselfs are in bran... i also use both potatoes and carrots... although carrots last a lot longer... be careful not to let the substrate get wet... also, beware of mites... they will ruin your colony...

    other than that, search...

    i hope this helps...
  4. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Here's how I do it:


    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.
    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.
  5. PoultryParadise

    PoultryParadise Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2010
    Wow, good information. I plan to check them once a day, just throwing the worms into the morning chore routine. I didn't know that they needed to be raised in the dark, mistake number 1. Also, how can I avoid mites? I am fairly sure the ones I bought didn't come with any, though I have heard they can appear out of thin air. I through them in some cornmeal becaus that is what I had on hand. I will go pick up some bran today, we don't normally carry it at home because of the gluten.
    When I take the worms out for feeding the pets, do I take only big ones, do I leave some big ones? I assume they are the ones that turn into pupa.
  6. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    They don't need to be raised in the dark. They do just fine with a day-night cycle. Once you have enough worms you shouldn't have to worry too much about taking large vs. small.
  7. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I try to freeze new bags of wheat bran to kill any possible flying insect eggs that might be in it. Just be sure that it's warmed up again before you put it in with your mealworms. You can also heat it in a hot oven to kill anything like mites, etc.
    During winter, when I first buy the large $10 bag of wheat bran, I place it outside with a cover over it if it's below freezing outside.
    During summer or a warm spell during winter, if I buy a new bag, I put it in the freezer chest for several days.
    I doubt that you will have to worry about taking so many adult worms that lots of beetles won't still be produced; they won't all crawl into the folded sack paper.
  8. PoultryParadise

    PoultryParadise Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2010
    Quote:How many is enough in this case? How many do you raise on average to have some always in each stage of life?
  9. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Judging what the colony can handle takes some trial and error and experience. When starting a new colony you should wait until you see a lot of pupae before you start using worms. When you see the surface crawling with worms, you probably have enough to start feeding. The trick is to not feed too many so that the colony crashes. If you look at the number of worms in the pics of my colony on my worm page (https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=56638-how-to-raise-mealworms) you could start collecting when you have just 10% of what is seen there. Just remember to only feed the worms and not the pupae or beetles. When you have beetles, make sure they have plenty fresh veggies to eat to maximize their productivity. Their productivity is also is heat-limited, so the warmer you keep your colony, the better (mine do best at 100-110 F outside during the summer). joebryant's advice to store them up in times of plenty for times of scarcity is excellent. I'm not allowed to bring my colony inside the house and productivity drops considerably in the cooler winter temps of my garage. Keeping some stored away helps stretch out the availability.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  10. Raen

    Raen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2010
    Quote:Wow, thanks for posting that. I never thought I'd ever in a million years want to grow worms, but if I can do it on such a small scale, then maybe (my husband is going to think I'm so nuts). This is the first time I've ever encountered the idea, so I'm glad poultryparadise started this thread.

    A question about the above "farm." I like the idea of feeding my chickens real, live protien (they get to free range, but especially in the winter I wonder how many bugs they manage to actually find). How many chickens does a setup like that feed? Can you give me an idea about pounds of worms/week?


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