Raising mealworms is very simple and does not require expensive equipment. It is in any case interesting, because it allows to provide his hens with a dietary supplement of high quality whose provenance we know. Let’s find out what is this larva so popular with chickens, and see what is the procedure for successful breeding of mealworms.
What is mealworm?
The mealworm is the larva of a beetle, the mealworm who likes all the flours made from cereal products. Tenebio molitor is very present in warehouses, silos, bakeries but do not disdain our interiors either because our cupboards are often full of flour of all kinds.
This can be useful when raising chickens since mealworms are a prime food for gallinacea. Rich in protein, they are essential for obtaining high quality eggs, increasing egg production and maintaining healthy hens. However, you should not force-feed your birds with mealworms because excess is never beneficial. Daily, each hen must be able to be satisfied with 5 larvae maximum, which is the right dosage.
Transformation of the mealworm into an adult mealworm
It is necessary three months under rearing conditions so that a larva emerging from the egg laid by the female mealworm becomes an adult beetle, and nearly one year in the wild.
White larvae less than 2 mm in length go through different stages and undergo several moults. The larval period lasts between 20 days and 1 month. The larva – which is therefore the famous mealworm – then became a nymph, a period between 6 and 20 days, during which we can observe many physical transformations such as the coloring of the eyes in reddish brown as well as the antennae, that of the head or ocelli in orange, the growth of the legs, the formation of the wings… Finally, the mealworm appears and its lifespan is 3 weeks to 2 months.
A female mealworm sucker has several egg laying cycles that allow him to lay in total hundreds of eggs. This can therefore prove to be very profitable when raising a lot of hens.
Start a mealworm farm
We understand how important it is to be able provide his chickens self-produced mealworm larvae.
It is certainly possible to buy them in specialized shops but nothing prevents you from trying to breed mealworms in order to satisfy your hens without spending money. This may also be preferable because some pet stores do not always specify their origin. They do not guarantee the harmlessness of their larvae either. However, for the record, knowing that some people consume it (it’s a choice!), It is better to avoid taking risks, because these worms are likely to transmit diseases to humans. But even for his hens, we always prefer to know where their food comes from.
The most important criterion for this type of breeding is the ambient temperature which must be between 25 and 30 ° C. It has an impact on the development of the larva which becomes a nymph and finally a mealworm as we have seen previously.
The Necessary material is either a plastic box, either a glass container. Cardboard, paper, wood and polystyrene are to be avoided because the critters do not have long to destroy them. The procedure to follow is as follows.
- Spread cereal flour on the bottom of the container, on a 4 cm thickness.
- Install some mealworms there (adults, therefore).
- Spread somepeelings freshly collected from untreated (organic) products by placing them on a small piece of plastic so that they do not wet the flour. These plants will provide the organic waste and water needed by adult beetles. These Tenebrionidae especially like banana peel, fruit shells, salad, lemon peel, cucumber and potato.
- Cover the whole with two sheets of cardboard stacked or a cardboard folded in half.
- Finally, place a sheet of newspaper or a dark cloth on the whole.
- Place the container in a local without light, dry (that is to say with a low humidity rate), and where the temperature is above 25 ° C but below 30 ° C.
You have to think about replace about every 3 days the plants which have dried by new ones, these containing enough moisture for the beetles. The better the conditions, the more important the reproduction of these insects.
For collect the mealworms from home production, it suffices to sift flour. We take advantage of this operation to get rid of dirt, droppings, dead larvae, then we renew it by adding new flour to start a new breeding.