Mealworms Join the Livestock Lineup

This is what 500 mealworms in a cup of bran look like (click on the picture to see them up close and personal).

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.

1,000 mealworms enjoying their new home.

2 thoughts on “Mealworms Join the Livestock Lineup

  1. Ew-w-w-w! I don’t exactly know why I had that reaction because I’m so fond of the worms doing their wormy good works in our garden, though I think the operative phrase there in “in the garden”! It must have been the image of them chomping (do worms chomp?) through their own sewage. And we have a worm composter we’ve never set up, so it’s not like I might not have some worms in my house someday. I did want to thank you for the heads-up — I’ve toyed with the idea of attracting bluebirds (love, love, love them) and that’s one of their favorite gourmet treats. Guess I’ll have to figure out another menu.

    BTW, I think I steered you wrong on the Novella Carpenter book I was reading — it was the other book, Education of an Urban Farme, that had the chicken info. My library didn’t have her second book yet, so I read this one instead. Excellent. Will probably buy it.

    Anyway — it’s fun living vicariously through your brood! Sorta like grandchildren — somebody else has all the work…

    • Yes, aren’t they repulsive? Nothing like compost worms at all, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll keep you posted–maybe raising them won’t be so bad.

      I’ve heard of Novella Carpenter, and I’m looking forward to finally checking out her books. Hopefully I’ll actually find time to read them. This whole “livestock” rearing thing is putting a crimp in my style!

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