Recent research led me to find that you can grow worms fairly easily. This is a more "natural" diet for a chicken anyway, at least a free-ranging chicken. Our birds used to be completely free to roam our property, just shy of two acres. They went further though, but not too much further. They were laying eggs....somewhere besides their nesting boxes. So now we have the backyard fenced in for them. They have plenty of room, but probably not as many insects. At least now we're getting all of our eggs. Yay! We have 8 laying hens and get on average get 8 eggs a day. We'd like to have a few more momma hens, and they are slowly multiplying. We had 9 hens but one mysteriously disappeared, with no trace.
So mealworms and/or maggots was my first inclination. I recently posted a links to each of the options. After further investigation, I found out that maggots = possible botulism and other diseases. That's fine, they gross me out anyway. Mealworms seem pretty easy. Something about the dryness of the worms and the bedding (oatmeal or bran meal) that makes them much less gross.
I looked at lots of sites about mealworms. Seems birds, fish, sugar gliders, tarantulas, lizards, and who knows what all other animals eat mealworms. They are easy to grow and cheap. Sign me up. You need to keep them separated through out their life cycles. It's pretty cool, they have 4 stages and it goes like this:
Egg: 7-14 days
Larvae (mealworm): 30-90 days
Pupae: 10-20 days
Darkling Beetle Adult: 5-10 days
I bought a tub of mealworms from Petsmart, 100 for $5 and went to work. All the tutorials I found suggest something like those plastic office organizers. My first inclination was to run out and buy some.
Fortunately I'm still in my "decluttering" mindset and I realized I have several plastic bins in a closet full of junk I'm not using. So the smartest thing to do, would be to get them out of the closet, go through the crap inside and use what I already have.
|rescued from the "junk" closet|
|B already had the drill out - see the green house coming up in the back?|
|I asked him to drill holes where I marked, clearly he understood|
|I already had these in the pantry, it works as food and bedding|
Ok, mealworm setup is complete. Well that was so quick and easy that I'm ready to do something else. How about red wigglers? Them make awesome compost, and more worms. All they need is one big bin and some shredded paper/cardboard. Sweet, now where can I get some of those? Apparently not anywhere near me. Before publishing this I heard there are some in Mobile, but there's a hurricane out there and I'm not driving to Mobile for worms. Especially when you can buy some from Amazon. Yes, you can buy live worms from Amazon.com
But I didn't. The reviews weren't great for those that had taken that route. I ended up buying worms from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. They also had a pretty great deal on mealworms, so I stocked up a bit more on them, about 500 more.
Vermicomposting and Vermaculture from www.treehugger.com has some great info on whys and hows of growing worms.
So does My Pet Chicken.
I'll show pics of the red wigglers when they get here. Yay!