I’ve decided to start a new thing–farming meal worms here at Wooly Acres! My internet research shows that giving meal worms to chickens through the winter increases egg production. I like eggs. Seems like a good deal! Of course you can purchase the meal worms, but that is more expensive and not self-sustaining.
We actually get meal worms in our barn around any spilled feed during the summer. But since I waited till now, in freezing weather, to decide to do this, I had to go purchase my first set of worms. You can get them at some PetSmarts though make sure you get the “live” ones–they reproduce better. 😉
But I thought it would be more fun to go get them from our local bait shop/auto repair combo business just down the road. The former hell’s angel-looking guy behind the counter was very helpful. I think I would not have experienced this ambiance at PetSmart!
So I bring home 250 small meal worms to get started. They are a little slow because they have been in the fridge. But they warm up pretty quickly.
Their container is about a foot square. It’s a plastic one from the dollar store. You don’t even have to use a lid because the worms can’t manage the slick sides. And once they hatch into beetles, they can’t fly. I will keep a lid on though, to keep any curious kitties out.
Basically, meal worms need “meal” or grains to eat, bed in and lay eggs in. Many people recommend using Quaker quick oats. You can also give them chicken mash. I had both so I thought I would see which they prefer: the oatmeal is on the right and the mash is on the left. Unfortunately our mash has already been mixed with scratch (corn and oats). I don’t know that they care a whit for corn.
I poured the worms in and they instantly began burrowing. They quickly radiated out to the edges and the whole container seemed to be heaving and sighing!
They definitely seem to be preferring the chicken mash over the oats so far.
So next I wait for them to go through a few molts, then pupate, then emerge into darkling beetles. The beetles will lay eggs, which then hatch into meal worms! These meal worms can be fed to fish, reptiles and amphibians, birds like bluebirds, and poultry. People also use them for fish bait.
Will keep you posted!