Today, we will talk about one of the weirdest things you will ever buy online, dried mealworms. That’s right. You can buy your flock crunchy worm fries that they will enjoy and come back for more. But meal worms are more than just a treat. Let’s look at 8 reasons why dried mealworms are good for your chickens. Plus a few facts about them.
What Are Mealworms?
First thing’s first, what is a mealworm? These aren’t your typical table scraps that everyone is used to feeding their hens. If you’ve never seen them before, they can be kind of intimidating.
These tiny little worms are actually not worms at all. Instead, they are the larva of a beetle. They are orange in color with a black head and tiny little feet. If they are left to grow, they will transform into a darkling beetle.
You can buy mealworms at a local pet store or online and have them delivered to your door. But if you are looking for dried mealworms, the best place to buy them is in your local birdfeed aisle. Wild birds, poultry, and pets alike love dried meal worms. And here are 8 reasons why dried mealworms are good for your chickens.
1. The Nutrients
The main reason why everyone loves to feed dried mealworms is that they are healthy for your chickens. Mealworms are an excellent source of calcium, fat, protein, and fiber. These are all of the critical nutrients a chicken needs to live life and produce eggs. That means that meal worms are a treat that you can feel good about giving your flock.
And they are great for backyard chickens of all ages. For example, younger chickens could use the extra protein before laying their first egg. And older hens could use the boost of nutrients to keep them feeling young and vibrant. You can even give these dried mealworms to baby chicks as young as two weeks old in moderation.
2. Good For Molting
Most people like to give their hens a mealworm treat when they are going through a bad molt. When your chickens molt, they use all of their resources and nutrients to regrow their feathers. And chickens mealworms have 50-55% protein that can help your chickens regrow their feathers faster. And we all know what that means; your hens can get back to laying eggs.
Mealworms are especially useful for chickens going through their first molt. That first time your chickens molt, it can be difficult for them to bounce back. The average chicken can take as long as 12 weeks to regrow all of those beautiful feathers. But if you give them a few mealworms, they will have their new feathers in as little as six weeks.
3. Larger Eggs
Eggs are composed of mostly protein and calcium. So it only makes sense if you feed your chickens a healthy snack; it will bulk up your eggs. That is where the mealworm comes in. Since the mealworms are high in protein and calcium, it only makes sense that they are the best treat for larger eggs.
However, they do more than just make your eggs larger. They also make the eggs taste richer and give them that dark yellow color everyone wants. And what chicken keepers don’t like a deliciously large egg?
Increasing the protein in your chicken’s diet can also increase the number of eggs your chickens lay. Sometimes when a chicken lacks protein or calcium in its chicken feed, its egg production rate will drop dramatically.
Whether this drop is natural due to the season, age, or illness, feeding of mealworms can help rebound production. And if your chickens are great egg producers already, it very well could increase output even more.
4. Can Be Used For Training
Whether you are gaining your chicken’s trust or training them to use a new coop, mealworms are perfect. Your chickens can’t resist the temptation of a mealworm. Eventually, all you have to do is show them what you have, and you could get them to do almost anything.
One of the most popular ways to gain a chicken’s trust is to sit down in the run with a few mealworms. Your hens will smell and see those delicious worms and will come closer to get a better look. Once they are close enough, they might take a few bites and run away. But if you do it regularly enough, they will practically jump in your lap for a snack.
But another popular way that mealworms are used in training is getting your chickens back into the coop at night. Once your flock knows the sight of mealworms, they will come running to get a bite. Toss a few into the coop, and all of your hens will go in without a fight.
5. Winter Treats
Next on our 8 reasons why dried mealworms are good for your chickens are that they are perfect winter snacks. Chickens have a hard time foraging for bugs in the winter. But you can remedy this by buying dried meal worms to balance your chicken’s diet.
These winter treats can also encourage your chickens to lay eggs throughout the winter. With the boost of protein and calcium, your chickens will have all the nutrients they need for winter eggs. When you combine this trick with adding artificial light, your baskets will never be empty.
6. Great For The Deep Litter System
You read that right. If you use the deep litter method, you can use mealworms to aid in composting the litter. Now we aren’t suggesting that mealworms will break down your bedding. But if you sprinkle them over the top of your bedding, you might see magical results.
We all know that with the deep litter method turning the bedding is vital for composting. The bedding needs adequate oxygen to break down, and if not turned, it becomes compacted. But raking the bedding regularly can get tricky. To get air into the bedding, you can spread a thin layer of mealworms all over the coop floor.
Then when your chickens come in to forage for them, your hens will turn the bedding for you. And your chickens will continue to scratch around long after the mealworms are gone. So your bedding will get the proper aeration it needs for composting, and it saves you time. Plus, you are saving time by feeding your chickens and tending to the coop. Who says it’s impossible to multitask?
7. Easy Treat
Bugs are an essential part of our chicken’s diet. But some don’t like the idea of breeding and keeping worms for the sake of our chickens. That’s why dried meal worms are so much easier.
Breeding live mealworms is a lot of hassle. It takes a lot of money, time, and space. And the worms are tough to keep alive long enough to make it worth your while. So instead, you can buy a bag of dried mealworms to make it much easier in your already busy life.
Plus, the biggest bonus to dried mealworms is that you can buy them in bulk. You can get a five-pound bag for under $40. So that means fewer trips to the store, and you have treats available all year round. While your chickens don’t care about this factor, it is a big thing to consider for us humans.
8. A Little Goes A Long Way
And finally, we come to the fact that just a few mealworms go a long way. Since mealworms are not a regular part of a chicken’s diet, your bulk purchases will last. How many mealworms do your chickens eat? Each chicken only needs about ten mealworms apiece, and they only get them 1-2 times a week. So if you have a small flock and a large bag, it could last all year.
So What’s The Controversy Over Mealworms?
Like everything in the animal-keeping world, there are some people out there that say mealworms are not safe. The reason for this is that not all companies make their mealworms equally. Some of the cheaper manufacturers use flash heat to dry out the worms, like a microwave. And in the process of doing this, they are sucking all of the nutrients we love out of them.
Luckily, some manufacturers have broken away from these bad habits and adopted a freeze-drying technique. When the mealworm is freeze-dried, it retains most of its nutrients while perfectly preserving them. So you don’t have to worry about filling your chicken’s stomachs with empty calories. And while these are still not a primary food source, they still have benefits.
The Best Dried Mealworms
If all mealworms aren’t created equal, it might have you questioning which ones are safe. Here is a quick list of the most trusted mealworm companies on the market.
So Do Your Chickens Like Mealworms?
With these 8 reasons why dried mealworms are good for your chickens, we don’t know why you haven’t tried? Not only do chickens adore the taste of mealworms, but the dried texture also makes them fun to eat. Your chickens will recognize the bag and come running. And you can benefit from their love of mealworms too.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!