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Friday, August 24, 2012

Meal worm farming


meal worm in palm of hand, farm, how to
As we all know, meal worms are a great feed supplement for all poultry flocks, and they LOVE them.  Thanks to companies like Happy Hen Treats they are easy to purchase and simple to feed to our chickens, ducks and quail.  Over time, depending on how often you like to give your birds meal worms, it can indeed get quite pricey.  In a time where the "name of the game" is to spend as little as possible and be more self sufficient, one finds themselves looking for alternatives to buying certain things.  Although there is an initial investment to meal worm farming, the pay off is quite nice and in some cases you can even make money by selling your worms.
Meal worm farm field.  Substrate used is wheat bran.
Meal worm farm field.  Substrate used is wheat bran.


I recently started up my own meal worm farm about 2 weeks ago after much research and consulting with several "professionals".  Like anything else, the more people you ask the more different answers you will receive.  What I did was to start simple and combined bits and pieces from each persons point of view.

The meal worm farm is the cheapest farm you can possibly buy.
The meal worm farm is the cheapest farm you can possibly buy.

The first thing you will need to start farming your own meal worms is obviously the farm itself.  I am using a plastic 3 drawer organizer I had left over from our office which had been used to store paper products in.  Since we no longer use paper, it was the perfect item to repurpose. The reason for 3 drawers is because you should separate the worms as they go through their life cycles from worm to pupa to beetle and back again.  All of the drawers will need a layer approximately 2 inches deep and also some sort of  moisture for the worms to drink from usually just in the form of a cut potato or carrot.  Since these worms are going to be a food source for our hens and our family eats their eggs, I didn't skimp on the substrate which the worms feed from.  In my farm I used an all natural wheat bran at about $2 per box with each drawer using about 2 boxes.  You can also use non - instant oat meal if you prefer.

Feed meal worms wheat bran by using as substrate or bedding
Feed them right by using a good substrate.

The first drawer of my meal worm farm contains the worms themselves.  This initial purchase of worms can either be bought in bulk from an online distributor or through your local pet store. You will want to start with about 500-2000 worms if you will be feeding your birds right from your farm. Stay away from the "super worms" and "giant meal worms" as these are somehow treated to prevent them from further developing.

The second drawer of my meal worm farm will contain the pupa I gather from my first drawer.  These are easy to distinguish because you will most likely find them on the top of the substrate, motionless, and will be a creamy white color.  Their color will slowly turn to brown during its pupation which may take anywhere from three days up to one month.

The third drawer of my meal worm farm will contain the beetles which "hatch" from the pupa.  The Tenebrio molter, or flour beetles, are then left in this drawer on the same substrate as in the other two, where they will eventually lay up to three hundred eggs each!  As these eggs hatch into worms and the worms get large enough for me to strain out, they will be placed into the first drawer and the cycle will begin all over again.  

Mealworm Nutritional Information:

Fat 27.2%, Protein 49.6%, Carbohydrates 6.9 grams/100, Calories 471 calories/100 grams



Happy Farming! 
Cheers ~ Kevin





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12 comments :

  1. At what temperature range does the meal warm farm need to be maintained?

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    Replies
    1. I don't think they are really that picky but have been told the best temperature for keeping the meal worms at is 75F for the most productivity.

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  2. This makes me want to empty my organizer in my office right now!

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  3. I have looked into farming meal worms over the last few weeks. Youtube has several videos on raising meal worms but the video quality is awful. The best one shows three bins on a table (with BAD lighting) and gives instructions on the life cycle of the worms, add veggies for water and says to move them every two weeks. Other than that, it is not a complicated ordeal.

    My local pet shop made me choke yesterday. $4.00 for 75 worms; 5 dollars for a hundred live worms. The YT videos spoke of hundreds for 9 dollars. Yikes! I do believe an internet order is called for.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Ive contacted a couple distributors hoping to get a hold of one that will work with us. They will probably respond on Monday.

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  4. Would you keep us posted on the length of time you can keep the oats ir bran before you need to recycle it? I was wondering about the smell also. Where do you keep your farm? Nothing will escape will it? I was wondering if it attracts flies, etc.? Thanks for educating us.

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  5. So what kind of numbers are we talking here? How many chickens do you support on this system? How often and how much do you give them?

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  6. How do you keep the beetles from escaping?

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    Replies
    1. I haven't had any escape using this system.

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  7. Has there been an update post about mealworm farming? I'm curious how it worked out. :)

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    Replies
    1. The meal worm farm worked out very well... provided you and whatever you are feeding have ample amounts of patience! For our needs, purchasing worms in bulk through an online supplier works out well.

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