If you raise poultry, you may find it necessary to discover the process for breeding mealworms for chickens. Perhaps you have noticed a drop in egg production, or your flock seems lethargic and less lively than expected. Consequently, your understanding of what to feed chickens remains essential to re-establish a healthy balance.
When you consider what do chickens eat, a high protein diet can result in a healthy, productive flock. Therefore, live mealworms offer the ideal solution, and as a result, you may wish to understand how to grow your own mealworms. After all, a happy, healthy chicken will lay good quality eggs, and your yield should increase.
Breeding Mealworms for Chickens
Creating a mealworm farm and breeding mealworms for chickens is reasonably straight forward. A large container with a little bran is perfect as a starter. To this, you add live mealworm and a little vegetable matter. Also, keep your mealworm farm out of direct sunlight and in the shade.
In no time, your colony will start to reproduce, and hey presto, you have your very own high protein chicken feed. However, take care to remove any decaying matter from the container and ensure it remains dry. Furthermore, you may wish to remove any beetles from the larvae to reduce any contamination within the colony.
Why Feed Chickens Mealworms?
When you consider what to feed chickens, a balanced diet that includes protein is beneficial to the chicken’s health and productivity.
Feeding mealworms to chickens provides a boost
Humans benefit from a diet that includes proteins. In fact, all living things do. Therefore, feeding your chickens a diet that provides for proteins in the form of mealworms will make for a healthy and productive flock. Chickens need protein, in particular, the amino acid methionine, which insects contain in abundance.
High protein insects
Mealworms contain a significant amount of protein and are a rich source of the amino acid, methionine. In fact, mealworms contain 53% protein. When you consider that protein dramatically affects the production of eggs and muscle, it makes sense to make sure that chickens receive sufficient protein intake to ensure strong, healthy bodies and plump, delicious eggs.
Chickens farmed for their eggs need at least 16% of their diets to contain rich protein. Breeding mealworms for chickens and using it in their feed will ensure they receive a nutritious, balanced diet and sufficient protein.
Brand new feathers
Did you know that the construction of chicken feathers consists mainly of protein? Also, during the spring and fall, chickens molt and replace their feathers with new ones. The action of replacing their feathers is a perfectly normal occurrence. However, only healthy chickens will molt and regrow a beautiful coat of fresh feathers.
By ensuring a quality diet that includes protein in the form of mealworms, your chickens will always look good. Consequently, breeding mealworms for chickens will result in robust and vigorous growth of new feathers.
Recommended Read: 46 Ideas for Building Your Chicken Coop
It’s all about the eggs
Chickens fed with good quality vitamins, minerals, and protein produce the best meat and eggs. When you consider what to feed chickens, it is worth keeping such a fact close to your heart. A well-fed chicken will produce meat and eggs filled with more vitamins, protein, and minerals than a chicken fed with a poor quality feed.
It is a well-known fact that eggs provide an excellent form of protein for our diet. Therefore, it stands to reason that chickens fed with good quality protein supplements will produce more nutritious eggs.
Also, if your flock seems reluctant to produce eggs, or if the harvest is lacking, then consider breeding mealworms for chickens. The extra protein content will give your chickens a boost and encourage your chickens to lay and increase egg yields.
A simple little trick
Churning the bedding in your pens is a chore and not something we may take a great deal of delight from. However, sprinkle mealworms into the bedding, and your chickens will do most of the work for you. They will do anything to get at the tasty little treats.
Breeding Mealworms for Chickens for Happy Chicks
While mealworms may not prove the most attractive of critters, your chickens will love you for them. Given regularly, your chickens will soon start to look forward to their feeding times, and happy chickens mean good quality eggs and meat. So are you ready to begin breeding mealworms for chickens?
How to Create Your Mealworm Farm
The scientific name for these unattractive critters is Tenebrio Molitor, and while mealworms remains a much easier word to remember, it is, nevertheless, just as unappealing. However, once you get over your disdain for the crawling insects, the benefits of breeding mealworms for chickens quickly outweighs the ickiness.
Mealworms provide an inexpensive and cost-effective way to boost protein intake in your flock. Furthermore, it is an easy process, and you will soon have your mealworm farm producing loads of lovely wriggly insects for your hungry chickens.
You need a large container
A large plastic container is an ideal place to start. Also, if the container is transparent and you can see what is happening inside, then all the better. Therefore, a large glass tank may prove ideal. Furthermore, the glass sides of the tank will prevent the mealworms from crawling out. Alternatively, you may use a large plastic tub. but ensure that the airflow is unobstructed.
It would help if you had a large surface area within the tub rather than depth. Think large floor area and short walls. Also, use a fine wire mesh to cover the container. This will allow for adequate airflow as well as aid in keeping those unwanted lizards and rodents from stealing your harvest.
Make the bed
Once you have your container, you will need to add a 3-inch bed for your colony. The foundation may consist of wheat bran or even chicken feed as long as the feed does not contain any earth. Feed stores provide a cost-effective resource for your wheat bran.
It is worth freezing your bedding choice for a couple of weeks before you set up your colony. Alternatively, heat the bedding to 130 degrees for 30 minutes and then allow it to cool. Either method will effectively kill any unwanted insects and eggs within your chosen form of bedding.
It’s time for the mealworms
Now you may add your mealworms to start your colony. To facilitate a faster-growing mealworm farm, add 1,000 mealworms to every 10-gallon tank. It really is a case of the more, the merrier, and will result in a faster start-up.
Feed your mealworm farm
Once you have added your mealworms to the container, you will need to feed them. Vegetable matter provides the perfect food for your farm. Potato peelings, carrot peelings, cabbage leaves, and even apple peelings provide the ideal feeding materials. Keep adding varied vegetable matter as this will result in healthier mealworms.
Also, feed your mealworm farm often. The larvae will consume a great deal of food, and the more you feed them, the more they will multiply. Consequently, mealworms fed on a varied diet of vegetable matter will produce better and more nutritious food for your chickens.
Keep the farm dry
However, it is of vital importance that you do not allow the bedding to get wet within the tank. Consequently, avoid using overly wet or water-laden vegetable matter when applying the feed. Also, check the tank regularly and remove any decaying vegetable matter.
The reason for keeping the tank dry is because moisture will encourage mold and fungus growth, not to mention harmful mites. The reason why mealworm farms may fail is that they have become too wet. Be mindful of the moisture content within the tank, remove rotten leaves, and you cannot go far wrong.
You will want to keep your tank out of direct sunlight and in the shade. Direct sunlight will kill your colony. However, heat will encourage growth and ensure a thriving tank of breeding mealworms. Furthermore, you don’t want your mealworm farm to get cold either. Freezing temperatures during the winter will destroy all your work, so ensure you maintain constant heat.
Maintaining your mealworm farm
Breeding mealworms for chickens is easy, and so is the maintenance. Occasionally, you may need to top up the wheat bran bed. To do this, pour the additional bedding into the tank. It doesn’t matter if it buries any vegetable matter as the mealworms will continue to flourish.
Top up the bedding only when it starts to look a bit thin inside the tank. However, you will need to remove any dried-up vegetable matter more often than you need to add additional bedding.
Ready to harvest
Leave your mealworm farm for a couple of months to mature and to give the mealworms a chance to multiply. It is important to note that you only use the worm-like larvae themselves to feed the chickens. The pupae and beetles should remain inside the farm where they will continue to produce mealworms.
But how do I get the mealworms out?
Cut a potato in half and place them inside the tank. Within a few minutes, the worms will latch onto the potatoes, and you may lift them out and shake the worms into a separate container. This may prove a fun job for the younger members of the household. Mealworms don’t bite, so the process is entirely safe.
Also, you will find that the mealworms will consume any dead critters inside the farm in a constant cycle of renewal. As a result, you don’t need to worry about removing any dead carcasses.
Separating the pack
You may wish to remove some of the developing beetles from the farm to cut down on wastage. The beetles will eat some of your mealworms. However, if you maintain the farm regularly and ensure a regular flow of fresh, varied vegetable matter, cannibalism should not prove a problem, and you may leave the developing beetles within the farm.
The summer glut
Because the reproduction of mealworms is faster in the warm summer months, you may find that you have an abundance of chicken feed. If so, then pack the mealworms in smaller containers with some bran and store in the fridge. This will help to extend the mealworm season and ensure a constant supply of nutritious protein for your chickens.
Recommended Read: How to Care for Chickens in the Extreme Cold
An Important Note
You may find that after constant exposure to mealworms, you develop an allergy to them. It is therefore recommended that you wear protective gear such as a face mask and gloves while creating and maintaining your mealworm farm. A face mask and gloves will protect you, and it is worth monitoring your respiration while tending to your farm to make sure no changes in your condition occur.
Breeding Mealworms for Chickens Is Easy
A diet of rich, nutritious protein added to your good quality chicken feed will result in healthier, happier chickens. Well-fed chickens will produce better meat and tastier eggs. Breeding mealworms for chickens will result in healthier birds and greater yields.
By using a large tank and some wheat bran, you may easily set up your mealworm farm. Adding plenty of vegetable fiber to the tank will encourage the insects to reproduce, and in no time at all, your colony will be established.
Keep the tank dry and remove rotten vegetables to maintain a healthy farm. Make sure the tank is in the shade and maintain a constant warm temperature to encourage reproduction.
Breeding mealworms for chickens is relatively easy, and by following these simple instructions, your flock will soon benefit from the protein-rich food.
Featured Image by Kirsten Bühne from Pexels
Sean Kerr lives in Cardiff, Wales, and is a published author with over 10 novels to his name so far and still counting. You’ll find more of Sean’s helpful homestead advice at BeeKeep Buzz and GardenAware. As well as writing his next bestseller, Sean also runs a successful Jewelry making business and sells his creations online.