Today we added 1,000 mealworms to our menagerie. The reason? Chickens love mealworms. I’m not completely convinced that raising mealworms for the chicks to snack on is a worthwhile endeavor. It seems like there are plenty of tasty morsels raising themselves in the garden. So far, we’ve scavenged sow bugs, slugs, and snails for the chicks to try. I haven’t been able to bring myself to toss in any hapless compost worms, but I’m told that chickens love these, too, and that they are actually more nutritious than mealworms.
Oh well. The deed is done, and the mealworms are installed in a plastic tub with a window screen covering to (hopefully) ensure that no moths gain entrance and no mealworm beetles have free range of the house. Perhaps I’ll get used to them, but so far I’m not a fan of mealworms. They are too fleshy looking, too creepy crawly. They strike me as land-dwelling bottom feeders. Thus, I was surprised and repulsed to read that some folks eat mealworms. I guess if we ever have to start living off the backyard land…
In the meantime, I’m feeding the mealworms. They’ll eat either bran, or chicken mash (ours are on mash). They also need a chunk of produce, cabbage in our case, to add a little moisture to their environment. Since they prefer humidity around 70%, I also supplied them with a few damp paper napkins folded inside an old ice cream lid.
Supposedly the whole getup will not smell, as long as there is no buildup of dead worms. In theory this shouldn’t be an issue, since they are cannibalistic when given the opportunity. Unlike the Internet sources I found, which suggested sifting out frass (worm poop) and dead beetles periodically, the vet told us that there’s no need to clean out the tub, since the worms and adult beetles munch on everything from grain, to dead comrades and frass.