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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:50 am 
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Showy Hen
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Well, after reading the links on here (also listed at end of this post) about meal worms and creating a sustainable source of wriggly live food for the chooks, I decided to give it a go!

Just thought I might share with you pictures of the initial set up etc. My husband thinks I'm mad of course, and the house sitters we had in last week were somewhat horrified, but coped :shock:

So here is the container for the worms. I drilled holes in the lid for air and glued some tulle down on top to prevent anything getting in or out. As long as the fruit and vege peelings are removed and replaced every 2-3 days there is no smell. I have two containers set up the same way for worms and pupae, which I separate every few days now I have some idea what I am doing.
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They are living in a bed of oat meal and wheat bran, and as others have said it's dead easy to see when the bedding needs to be replaced because it gets all chewed up and grey looking.
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Here's a close up of the worms and you might notice that two are going into pupal form (the white looking ones). They didn't look like what I expected, but I am getting bugs so something must be working!
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Here are some shots of the bug containers. I have one with holes drilled into the bottom so I can sieve out the bran and eggs, and this sits easily iinto a second identical container. The sieving action worked quite well today so the holes seem to be just the right size.
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And finally one of the bugs!! These have appeared only in the last day or two, so hoping that I'll have new larvae in the near future. Then I'll have to figure out how much to increase the scale of this little operation to feed my small but beloved flock of feathered friends :D :D
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Am thinking of trying to gut load the feeder worms with fresh garlic and a high protein form of grain... no idea if this is worthwhile, but it sounds good in theory :oops: Someone with a better grasp of biology may be able to let me know??

Thanks to everyone (especially Jocler and Glennie) who contributed to the meal worm thread - your instructions and suggestions were great and really helpful. Doing this has been dead easy!!

viewto ... meal+worms

I actually dumped the whole thread into word document so I could edit it and read over the key instructions more easily, so I might try to add this back in here somehow for you all, in case a summary of the general instructions would be useful to others also.

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 Post subject: meal worms
PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:25 pm 
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How interesting. I will be interested in hearing more about your project.

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Last edited by Chicken07 on Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:27 pm 
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Swan
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looks good.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 1:45 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Hi Rae

Actually trying to set up this system and your pics are a real lifesaver - I was trying to figure out the sieving method in the old thread but the pics had been deleted so I had to try to visualize this. I currently have the tub of mealies that I bought from the petstore in a takeaway container and doing the daily moist food addition and checking for pupae.

A few questions:
1. do you pick out the pupae and put them in another container with the same set up as the mealies? OR

2. do you put them in that sieve tub you have set up for the beetles?

3. what bedding do you have for the beetles - it looks like egg cartons and something else? Is that wheat bran?

4. as you sift doesn't all the bedding for the beetles drop down to the bottom container eventually - so I gather you do a top up when this occurs?

thanks
chookstarter


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 3:10 pm 
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Showy Hen
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chookstarter wrote:
I was trying to figure out the sieving method in the old thread but the pics had been deleted so I had to try to visualize this

Hi Chookstarter- Lol -know the feeling! Took ages to figure out how to do this cheaply and efficiently. But - the system seems to be working :D :D

chookstarter wrote:

A few questions:
1. do you pick out the pupae and put them in another container with the same set up as the mealies? OR

2. do you put them in that sieve tub you have set up for the beetles?

3. what bedding do you have for the beetles - it looks like egg cartons and something else? Is that wheat bran?

4. as you sift doesn't all the bedding for the beetles drop down to the bottom container eventually - so I gather you do a top up when this occurs?

Re Qu 1 & 2. I left the worms for ages as they were in one of the large square tubs it'd set up, and when they started to pupate had no idea if they were dead or mutating. Once I got beetles, then I put them into the beetle set up. Now I'm trying to separate the worms and pupae every few days and have them in two separate container set up exactly the same way, but I don't put food into the container with pupae.

Re Qu 3. Yep- they are cut up egg cartons, as per the tip in the original thread, because the beetles like to get under things and hide. In this photo the bedding is rolled oats, but that was a mistake as this will not sift thru!! Had to dump it out and separate the beetles by hand to fix it :oops: :oops: There is also a piece of apple in there for a bit of moisture and food source other than bran. Will continue to use oat meal or wheat bran, not much, just handful in total - this worked a treat with the sifting, and (in answer to Qu 4) when I sifted out the eggs (I hope - will be too small to see) and bran, I just topped it up with another handful.

Glad to hear this has been useful to you! Good luck!! :)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 3:15 pm 
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some more good info just posted.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 6:50 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Thanks, that was really interesting to read I hope your chooks like the bugs, I imagine if they didn't there will be two contains outside your house with a "FREE" sign on them.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 7:09 pm 
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Hi RaeNGee,
Just a couple of questions.. Hope they are not too silly.

It is the mealies that you feed to the chooks and not the pupae?

Pupae is just a stepping stone to getting beetles? Thus more mealies.

How long will the beetles live for?..Do they constantly need to be breed or do they just become the breeding stock and you stop collecting the pupae if you have enough beetles?

Hope this makes sence :oops:
Jenny


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:55 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Quote:
Thanks, that was really interesting to read I hope your chooks like the bugs, I imagine if they didn't there will be two contains outside your house with a "FREE" sign on them.


They go CRAZY for the worms! My chicks are practically loony when they get hold of one and then they try to steal the other one's worm! It's really funny watching them :D - it's mainly for the meal worms that we breed them for ie that's what we feed the chooks, not the pupae or adult beetles.

Quote:
Pupae is just a stepping stone to getting beetles? Thus more mealies.


Yup - it's just like the 'cocoon' stage of the butterfly. They turn from the worm to the pupae (cocoon) and emerge as the beetle (butterfly).

Quote:
How long will the beetles live for?

I just googled and according to most sources they only live for like 2 months max and in their short lifetime, a single female beetle can lay like 500 eggs! So I guess as long as you have the system moving through you'll just keep moving them through the lifecycle - you can keep mealworms in the fridge in takeaway containers to slow their growth down and kinda keep them in 'suspended' animation for a bit. Just be sure to LABEL them carefully or keep them somewhere your guests/family members wouldn't pick them out by mistake!
:lol:

happy breeding!
chookstarter


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:12 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Jenny wrote:
Is it the mealies that you feed to the chooks and not the pupae?

Hi Jenny. No questions are stupid when you are interested in learning more.
Yes, it is the meal worms that I want as feed supplement. However, I have discovered that the chooks will eat the pupae too. I bet they'll eat the beetles if given a chance so maybe that's what I'll do with the most mature ones. I imagine I may have to create multiple beetle buckets in the end and have several trays of breeders and feeders. The original link goes into detail about this end of the production.

From http://www.greengardener.co.uk/bird.htm
Mealworms are a harmless beetle which consumes flour, meal, grain and other related crops and is found naturally in the wild. Their smooth, shiny wormlike bodies are made up of over 48% crude protein and 40% fat and have a high moisture content making them an excellent, proven food for insect eating garden birds and chicks. The mealworm diet is vegetarian which means they are safe to feed to birds and chicks without passing on diseases which may be present in meat fed larvae such as maggots.

Jenny wrote:
Pupae is just a stepping stone to getting beetles? Thus more mealies.
How long will the beetles live for?..Do they constantly need to be breed or do they just become the breeding stock and you stop collecting the pupae if you have enough beetles?

Haven't quite figured out the how many beetles I'll need to keep a supply going. Excess worms can be stored in the fridge though and they go into hibernation then. Is definitely a project that is a work in progress.
From http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjec ... ycle.shtml
Life Cycle: The mealworm undergoes complete metamorphosis. The female darkling beetle lays hundreds of tiny, white, oval eggs, which hatch into tiny mealworms (the larval stage) - it takes from 4 to 19 days to hatch. Each mealworm eats a tremendous amount and grows a lot, molting (shedding its exoskeleton) many times as it grows. It then enters the pupal stage (this stage lasts from 2-3 weeks up to 9 months, if the pupal stage over-winters). The pupa does not eat and seems inactive, but it is transforming itself into an adult. After pupating, a white adult darkwing beetle emerges from the pupa -- it soon turns brown and then almost black. The adult lives for a few months. The entire life cycle takes about a year.

There is a great illustration of the lifecycle at this link too - worth a look.

Edit - chookstarter, you beat me to it :oops: Sorry about the duplicated info

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:29 pm 
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Showy Hen
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:oops: :oops: By googling - just found an amazingly comprehensive link on growing meal worms for birds. Detail is just brilliant. Turns out the pupae have a higher protein content!! Definitely worth a read.

http://www.sialis.org/raisingmealworms.htm

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:21 pm 
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Showy Hen
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That link is really good as soon as I saw frass in the diagram, I thought could that be used on the garden. Turns out it can

Frass: As the mealworms consume the bran, a fine, dusty or sandy residue will settle out on the bottom. Eventually, shed exoskeletons and waste products (frass) will build up, and a slight ammonia odor may be detected. That means it's time to sift the grain to separate the worms and adult beetles (don't throw out tiny larvae or eggs); wash the container, add new grain, and return the worms to the container. You'll probably need to do this at least 3 times a year. If the frass builds up too much, mealworms may turn gray and get black stripes and then die.

The frass (waste) can be used as fertilizer for flowers or vegetables.
You might want to save the frass in a separate container for a bit and put some lettuce/cabbage to see if there are any mealworms you can separate out.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:57 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Brilliant site!

Quote:
Human consumption. Yes some people actually eat them. Freeze for 48 hours first. They will keep in the freezer for a few months if they are properly wrapped in airtight bags or containers. Rinse under running water before cooking. They can also be dried in the oven, and used in place of nuts, raisins and chocolate chips in many recipes.


I think I saw this on a film Nim's Island (with the kids) - when I saw her eat it I was like eww....but I guess it'd be like eating witchety grubs... :P

chookstarter


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