Mealworms! Shake that packet and chickens come running from every corner of the yard.
Chickens love dried mealworms, no doubt about it. But should you be feeding them to your flock? It really depends on the supplier.
As always, higher quality ones are more expensive but in terms of your flock’s health it’s definitely worth it.
This article discusses the benefits of feeding your chickens dried mealworms. It also explains how many you should feed your chickens, how to spot inferior mealworms and much more…
7 Reasons to Feed Your Chickens Dried Mealworms
So you have decided to ‘grow your own’ or have found a reputable source of mealworms for your flock. Why should you feed them to your girls?
Our Pick: Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Training Your Birds
You can train chickens to do amazing things, especially when they are rewarded with mealworms!
People have used ‘bribery by treats’ to teach hens to run obstacle courses, do a variety of tricks and even modify some anti-social behaviors.
It is also the easiest way to get reluctant teenage hens into the coop. They would rather have the snack than party outside.
Chickens are intelligent and can easily be trained to do things as long as there is a reward at the end, after all, no-one works for free!
Good for Feathers
The most useful time of the year to feed mealworms is around the time of the molt.
As you all know, the molt depletes a huge amount of protein from the bird. Through the stress of molting, the high amount of protein used in replacing the old feathers and strain of maintaining health is enormous.
Although your birds will get through the molt without high protein snacks, they do need extra protein from somewhere, so why not give them a special treat to brighten up the day for them?
You can give other high protein snacks too during this period, but use common sense please. Use your high protein snacks interchangeably – perhaps hard boiled and mashed egg one day, then mealworms the next and pumpkin seeds on the third and so on.
Variety is the spice of life!
Use as Medicine
If you have a hen that’s poorly, recovering from an infection or predator attack, she will need some extra protein to help repair any damaged tissue.
It would be acceptable under these circumstances to give her a teaspoon of them daily. The only exception to this is if there is a question of impaired kidneys; in which case, keep the protein at 16 – 18% layer feed.
Dried Mealworms Review Table
|DRIED MEALWORM / BSF||SIZE||OUR RATING|
|HappyGrubs – Black Soldier Fly Larva||1 lb||
|Hatortempt – Bulk Dried Mealworms for Chickens||11 lbs||
|Hatortempt – Dried Mealworms for Chickens||5 lbs||
|MBTP – Bulk Dried Mealworms (Treats for Chickens)||5 lbs||
A Simple Treat
If the truth be told, we all like to be spoiled at times. We are no different with our hens – they deserve treats for laying those beautiful eggs almost every day.
There is nothing wrong with spoiling your girls – as long as it is in moderation.
If you feed your girls too many treats they will pack on the pounds; obese chickens lay fewer eggs and have more problems with laying.
Keep it healthy, a beakful once or twice a week is sufficient; don’t listen to what the hens tell you!
Feeding Tip: For a summer time treat, makes some mealworm ice cubes. Put just a few in the cube tray, you can sprinkle in some herbs or grains too if you wish and freeze. Set them out in a pan in the shade and the hens will be busy for a while pecking at those refreshing treats.
They are delicious! No, I haven’t tried them but my head hen Ms. Crabby says they are to die for!
Increase Their Protein
They are packed full of protein which all living creatures need. However, too much protein can be unhealthy too. It can cause kidney problems for your ladies, as can too much calcium in the diet so moderation is best.
With 50% protein when dried and 30% protein when they are alive, they are packed with protein. The protein content of live worms is slightly less worrisome from the health point of view. However, dried ones aren’t a problem if fed in moderation.
Keep Them Healthy and Active
You can encourage your hens to work for their protein by tossing them into the bedding and watch them re-arrange the coop.
This will keep them busy for ages as they probe and peck every corner of the coop just in case they missed one. Nothing like getting the kids to clean out their room!
How much? I have 20 hens in one coop so I toss in a small handful scattering them as widely as I can.
How to Feed Dried Mealworms to Your Chickens
You have a few options when feeding them to your chickens.
I like to use it to help turn the coop bedding over. Just toss some into the bedding and your hens will go crazy rummaging through the bedding. It also helps make them last longer as it can take them some time to find them buried within the bedding.
If you don’t want their bedding turned over, you can also just toss it onto the ground outside and watch them demolish them in record time.
Finally, if you have extremely friendly hens you might even be able to feed them from your hand.
As for how many dried mealworms you can feed them and how often…
Treats should make up no more than 10% of your hens daily food intake. So a beakful or two of dried in a day is more than enough.
However you should make sure to switch up the treats, so only give them mealworms twice a week maximum.
Alternatives to Dried Mealworms
Because of this some enterprising folks have turned to raising crickets or dubia. I’m sure you all know what a cricket is, but what is a dubia?
A dubia is a… cockroach!
It’s a tropical cockroach that is packed full of protein and not quite as dreadful as a regular cockroach.
Apparently these little fellows are very peaceful and live harmoniously with each other, unlike Darkling beetles that will eat each other. They are also much quieter than a room full of crickets.
If you’re looking for more treat suggestions read our definitive list of chicken treats here.
We have given you a few excuses to spoil your hens rotten, but remember, like chocolate for humans, too many has a downside.
That applies to not only mealworms but any high protein snacks – be it seed, egg or insect.
If you have a few chickens and lots of time, training them to do tricks is an enjoyable pastime for you and the hens. You will amaze your friends with your smart hens!
Have you managed to train your hens with treats? Let us know in the comments section below…
Our Pick: Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae