I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

Making Your Own Mealworm Farm 101

mealworm farm

If your chickens are anything like ours, then they love to eat mealworms.

Mealworms are a healthy, nutritious snack full of protein that helps your hens lay lots of eggs.

We’ve previously discussed our favorite healthy chicken treats and mealworms were in the top 3 of that list!

There is one catch, though. Feeding your chickens mealworms all day can get expensive… very expensive.

Fortunately, you can grow your own live mealworms for a fraction of the cost and provide your girls with healthy snacks all year round.

Today, we’re going to look at what exactly mealworms are and how you can make your own mealworm farm.

Make Your Own Mealworm Farm infographics

Making Your Own Mealworm Farm. But First, What Are Mealworms?

Mealworms (also known as Tenebrio Molitor) are, in fact, insects.

They are scavengers that can be found in grain stores, feed sacks, and occasionally household items such as cereal and flour.

They like dark, dry places that store grain or other edibles such as flour or chicken feed.

You can extract all the nutrition and water they need for surviving and thriving from the grain which they have infested.

Note: An adult mealworm is known as the Darkling beetle.

 Mealworm Farm

Nutritional Benefits of Mealworms for Chickens

Mealworms aren’t just fun to feed your chickens. Who doesn’t love the chaos that comes from tossing your chooks some delectable treats?

But mealworms are also very good chicken food…in moderation, of course.

Chickens need protein, and more of it when they are sick, growing, molting, or laying eggs. Mealworms and black soldier fly larva pack a protein punch for chickens who need it.

Stressed-out chickens (due to moving, molting, or the addition of a new flockmate) need a little extra protein to get through the low points and emerge on the other side, happy and healthy.

mealworm farm

The Lifespan of a Mealworm

A female beetle will lay up to five hundred eggs during her short lifetime of a couple of months.

After a couple of weeks, the eggs will hatch and become larvae – which we know as a mealworm. Its’ proper title is the yellow mealworm.

Mealworms molt their exo-skeleton several times before they reach the pupa stage after approximately 3 months.

The pupa basically looks like a dead mealworm, but it is busy transforming itself into a Darkling beetle.

The only movement you will see is an occasional twitch if the pupa is disturbed. It does not eat or take nutrition during this period.

It will remain a pupa for about 2-3 weeks before hatching into a brown beetle that over a period of days will turn a black color. The complete lifecycle can be done in as little as 5-6 months in ideal circumstances.

Why Grow Your Own Mealworms?

There are many reasons to start breeding mealworms. While it may seem like an added responsibility at first, you’d be able to reap the benefits in the long run.

Mealworms are an excellent source of high protein. You can use live mealworms to train your chickens effectively.

Known to have high nutritional value, mealworms don’t only act as treats for your chickens, but they’d be a great bait for fishing. They also serve as supplementary treats for lizards and hedgehogs.

Also, breeding mealworms is an easy task that requires minimal materials and low maintenance. It wouldn’t feel like a heavy chore if you partner it with raising chickens.

It would be convenient for farmers to have a constant source of mealworms right in their barn rather than purchasing them. Also, you can save a lot if you’re breeding mealworms yourself.

Benefits Of Feeding Mealworm To Chickens

Now that you know the impact of breeding mealworms yourself, here are a few ways it can benefit your chickens and the way you’re raising them:

Healthy Treats for Chickens

As mentioned a couple of times in this blog, mealworms are high-protein treats for your chickens. They are highly recommended especially when your poultry is molting.

Just make sure it doesn’t go beyond 10% of its regular diet. The best thing about feeding your own mealworms is that you know what you’re giving them and doing away with pesticides or the like.

Train Chickens

You can give meal worms as a way to reward your chickens for staying in the coop for the night or for behaving within the flock.

Because it’s so tasty and your chicken’s favorite, you can effectively implement proper training and a reward system with it.

Keep Chickens Busy and Reduce Bullying

Live mealworms keep chickens active and busy. They’d love picking out these treats from the ground.

Your birds will have fun searching for these worms, digging the ground, and turning several stones. With that, they’d be too busy to bully other chickens.

Cheap Treats for Chickens

If you look for mealworms in the online market, you will see that they are sold for $17 for every 5 lb. That’s around $3.50 per pound.

However, if you start breeding mealworms on your own, it would cost only cents per pound.

mealworm farm

How to Make a Mealworm Farm

It is possible to buy mealworm farm kits online, but it’s much cheaper and more fun to make your own! So here we go – have some fun and become a mealworm farmer.

This is an excellent project for the kids – it’s easy, doesn’t require any high maintenance, and isn’t labor-intensive. It’s also a natural, self-replicating food source for your flock.

Step 1: Find a Container

Before you start your mealworm farm, you will need to find a container that you will use to grow them in.

For the container itself, any of the following will do an old aquarium, plastic storage tote, or similar item. If you use a fish tank or glass-sided container, you can watch your insects at work!

Mealworm Farm Container

It is oddly fascinating watching them go about their business. Between beetle watching and chicken watching, I can waste hours each day!

Whichever container you choose, make sure it is approximately: 12 inches x 24 inches and 12 inches deep.

The chosen container will also need a lid or screen mesh to put over the top. The lid needs to allow for some air circulation through the container.

I use an aquarium so that I can see what’s going on inside and get a feel for how quickly they are developing.

Step 2: Prepare Your Container

Now you have found an ideal container. You need to make sure it is thoroughly clean and dry.

At this point, you also need to find an ideal location for your container.

My mealworms are kept upstairs in the barn, which is dark and gloomy.

Any location you do choose needs to be warm (the ideal temperature is 80F), low light/ dark environment. If you aren’t squeamish, the closet would be fine.

You can use wire mesh or aluminum foil (mealworms’ legs cannot stick to foil) with holes poked in at the top to serve as a lid.

As winter nears, I will be investing in a heat mat specifically made for reptiles. It has a programmable thermostat and comes pre-wired.

This will keep my mealworm farm at 80F all winter long!

If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate year-round, you probably would not need this. However, do remember to keep them in the dark place.

Step 3: Add Your Substrate

Once you have your container and it’s in an ideal location, you need to fill it up with feed (substrate) for the mealworms.

The exact amount you will need depends on the size of your container; it needs to be about 2-3 inches deep.

For the feed, you want to use wheat bran. If you can’t use wheat bran, then rolled oats, chicken mash, or cereal crumbs will also work.

The same rule applies to oats, you’ll use a 3-inch layer of dry oats.

Mealworm Farm Feed

Note: If you use chicken feed, make sure it doesn’t contain diatomaceous earth, as this will kill the mealworms.

You should be able to buy the wheat bran for less than $1 per lb.

Whichever feed you decide to use, make sure you sterilize it prior to using- this will ensure that no pests are present. To sterilize, spread it out on a cookie tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 130-150F.

After you have sterilized your feed, put 3 inches of it into your container.

Note: Don’t get your substrate (bran etc.) wet; you don’t want a moldy environment.

Step 4: Add Mealworms to Your Farm

You now need to add mealworms into your container. The more, the better! You should aim to start with at least 500.

Several bait shops or a local feed store will carry mealworms.

If you really want to go to the source, you can look up for nearby time bug farmers, or insect farmers. They have an entire business around selling insects as commodities.

It is important to know what the mealworms have been fed since they can indirectly impact your chickens’ health and, by extension – yours.

Also, the possibility of zoonotic diseases such as salmonella cannot be ruled out since the exact diet of the insect is unknown, and the conditions in which the beetles are kept may be less than clean.

So, for this reason, I would only buy my mealworms from a reputable local source that I trust. Don’t import them cheap online- you don’t know what they’ve been fed.

Note: Do not buy giant mealworms. It is possible they have been treated with a growth hormone that will inhibit pupation and produce sterile beetles.

Once you have purchased your mealworms, gently pour them out into your container and apply your cover to the container – the cover is to keep things out rather than the insects in.

Mealworms are a favorite food of reptiles and amphibians, so you really don’t want your pet iguana eating all your worms!

Step 5: Feed Them and Let Them Grow

You now just need to keep your mealworms fed and let them grow and multiply.

You can feed them as much as you like, remember: more food means the more they multiply.

I have heard, not from personal experience that kiwi skin with a little meat leftover makes them grow bigger. You can also toss some slices of potato.

If you want a hands-off approach, just make sure you feed them every couple of weeks to maintain the feed depth of around 3 inches.

DIY Chicken Mealworm Farm

Now you just need to wait and let them flourish!

Step 6: Collect Your Mealworms

Depending on the conditions you have provided for your insects, it will take a few months before you can start feeding the larvae to your hens.

You should only feed the worms to your hens. The pupae and beetles should be left on the farm to reproduce.

Don’t worry about removing dead beetles. The larvae will do that for you.

Do, however, remove any bits of moldy food and discard them.

I find the easiest way to collect the worms is to add new food to the farm.

You can use a vegetable such as a carrot and place it into your container and leave it for 5 minutes or so.

The worms (larvae) will latch onto the carrot, pull the carrot out and shake it over another empty container and you will have lots of mealworms to feed your chickens with!

If you are lucky and happen to suffer from an overabundance of mealworms, they can be stored in the freezer in plastic bags.

Note: Remember to use gloves to handle the mealworm farm, and a few people use masks when working with the tank because of the dust. Some people become allergic to the fine dust created by the beetles, so if you already have a medical issue with your breathing, please err on the side of caution and wear a mask or respirator.

breeding mealworms

Common Problems When Breeding Mealworms

Breeding mealworms is generally simple, and you may not be running into problems as much. Still, some challenges will exist and it’s best you get a heads up about the common ones such as:

Changing the Bedding

You will need to change the bedding once the mealworms start to smell. This task can be tedious since you have to sieve out the larvae and beetles. I should also note that putting in cardboard or something like an egg carton isn’t a bad idea either.

Your little mealworm farm loves hiding under these things.

It becomes more challenging when your beetles start laying eggs. Otherwise, you can easily move the beetles in normal circumstances.

Taking Time to Hatch

It takes a long time for the larvae to hatch. In this case, you might need to increase the temperature.

Live mealworms thrive at temperatures of 75 to 80 °F with a humidity of around 70%. They would still develop in cooler temperatures but it takes longer.

Watch Out for Mold

If there is too much humidity on your mealworm farm, then mold will start to form. Still, moisture is important for your worms to thrive.

You can add slices of carrots or potatoes to keep moisture. However, if molds start to appear, you may remove these slices instead.

Mealworm Farm Growing Overview

Step 1: Find a Container

An old aquarium, plastic bin or tub or similar item will do. Make sure it is approximately: 12 inches x 24 inches and 12 inches deep.

Step 2: Prepare Your Container

Mealworms can be tricky so you’ll want to close the top off while allowing ventilation with fine wire mesh. You can just use duct tape to stick the mesh over the top of the container.

You can find these two by looking up local hardware stores near you.

Thoroughly clean and dry your container. I use an aquarium so that I can see what’s going on inside. Also, make sure to keep your farm in a warm, low light/ dark environment.

Step 3: Add Your Substrate

Add your substrate – wheat bran rolled oats, whatever you have chosen. Spread to a depth of 2-3 inches.

Step 4: Add Mealworms to Your Far

Add mealworms, and dump them in gently. You can buy mealworms either online or at a local pet store.

Step 5: Feed Them and Let Them Grow

The substrate will need to be topped up once in a while to maintain a depth of 2-3 inches. Don’t worry about removing dead beetles. The larvae will do that for you.

Step 6: Collect Your Mealworms

Now it’s time to reap the rewards. Collect your mealworms and feed your chickens!

Enjoy your project! The satisfaction of raising your own chicken treats will add to the satisfaction of saving money and knowing where your hens’ treats come from!

mealworm farms

FAQs About Making Your Own Mealworm Farm

Just like any first-timer in breeding mealworms, you probably have many questions in mind. Don’t worry.

We have a list of frequently asked questions that people usually ponder when they first start raising live mealworms. Here’s what you need to know:

How Long Does It Take To Farm Mealworms?

It takes 3 to 4 months for live mealworms to be fully grown. If you want to speed up their growth, you can increase the temperature accordingly.

You can also have a constant supply of mealworms by having two or more worm trays. This way, you can grow mealworms in intervals and be able to harvest them regularly.

What Is The Best Food to Feed Mealworms?

Live mealworms feed on a mixture of cereals, wheat bran, and flour. You can also add a variety of grains.

Bird seeds also work well for your mealworm’s staple diet. The good thing is that their feeds are cheap and easily accessible.

What Kind of Bedding is Best for Mealworms?

You can spread wheat bran, rolled oats, or cornmeal in a two-inch layer at the bottom of the plastic container. Later on, you can put the mealworms on top of this bedding.

It’s recommended to use materials with fine textures to make harvesting meal worms easier.

How Do You Stop Mealworms From Turning Into Beetles?

Keep your meal worms refrigerated. These bugs tend to thrive in a warm environment.

If you keep them at around 70 °F, live mealworms will consume more and transition into a beetle. However, by keeping the temperatures cool, you can slow down their growth and retain their worm forms.

Other References for Raising Chickens

Our Choice for All-In-One Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Run Chicken
  • Works Rain or Shine so you don’t have to let them out in inclement weather.
  • Go ahead and get those extra hours of sleep or go on vacation, our door has you covered.
  • Protect your Chickens from Predators with our self-locking feature

Our Recommended Treats To Feed Your Chickens

Happy Grubs: More Calcium Than Mealworms
  • Increase Egg Production
  • Stronger Egg Shells
  • Healthy Feathers

Make Your Own Mealworm Farm – Final Thoughts

Breeding mealworms may seem a lot to take in for now. However, you would be amazed by the long-term benefits of making your own mealworm farm.

Fortunately, mealworms are not difficult to raise. They only need minimal requirements, and live mealworms have very accessible and cheap needs.

By making your own mealworm farm, you have one less thing to worry about when raising chickens. You would have a constant supply of meal worms which is every chicken’s favorite treat.

READ NEXT: Dried Mealworms: Should Your Chickens Eat Them?

Are you going to try and grow your own mealworm farm? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Making Your Own Mealworm Farm

128 thoughts on “Making Your Own Mealworm Farm 101

  1. Just bought everything we need to get started. Our chickens love mealworms and i was spending a fortune! Hopefully they produce fast!
    Do you know if the worm farm attracts other bugs? Like scorpions we live in the desert.

    1. Hi Erin,
      Fantastic, let us know how you get on!
      It’s shouldn’t do providing you keep it hygienic and well contained.

  2. This seems very simple. I was reading a DIY earlier that said you have to keep beetle, pupae, work away from each other. Have an egg, nursery etc. etc. Seemed overly complex. Thank you for this!

    1. Nope, you don’t have to separate out the pupae and beetles. The simpler the better- that’s what I say Mike!

      1. Thank you so much for making what was becoming a laborious, thankless task sooooo much easier! I’ve been ‘farming’ since May & just as I was about to clear my beetles out, I thought I’d check to see if I could find a simpler option – and found it!! Massive thumbs up & thank you!
        (Have a generous amount of 2nd gen baby mealies, too, so the whole process has only taken 3 months!

        1. If we have an over abundance of mealworms can we freeze them and grind them into meal and make pellets out of it?

      2. I found a tower arrangement on line and built it bought 1000 worms saved 250 to 300 feed the rest to my brothers chickens. It will take me 9 mounts to get all trays 16 full. I willproduce a tray every week. to get more worms per. add more beetles to top tray live cycle 5-6 mouths

      3. I am new to this and do not know how to ask a question, so I will tag on to this one. I will start with my chickens in 2021. Can I start with my mealworms now? How fast will they reproduce? I am looking to start with about 8 chickens.

    2. I would like to provide mealworms to my wild birds. I obviously don’t need as many as if I was feeding a flock of chickens. Is this practical for what I want to do.

        1. I suspect that feeding them to wild birds will, given the abilities of inter-bird communication, Jan will need to *expand* her meally production~~!!
          Then the vision of 1000 starlings descending on her roof .. and visions of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” come to mind ;)))
          ( JK ! )

          1. what a riot. for those of you that have not seen the Alfred H. the birds, you need to see it. Do not view before bed!

  3. It might be simplified, but very inefficient. All stages (except egg) of the life cycle of mealworms are cannibalistic.
    If you do not separate them, your production will suffer.
    I have done it both ways…now I separate them. It is worth the extra work.

    1. Thank you for this Jeff!
      It’s intended to be very straight forward with minimum maintenance time, but I take your point 🙂
      Interestingly, is it much extra work running separate ‘farms’?

      1. less work Just feed an water as needed. Move trays once a week when you harvest. once a week I started with 250-300 beetles in 1 tray It will take about 9 months to get all 16 trays full .After that I will harvest 1 tray every week . want more worms? Put more beetles I the 3 beetle trays . Why dose it take so long to get it full? you only move the egg tray every 3 weeks which moves everything down 1 You have to wait for them to grow then its every week They are crunchy when dried and mixed wit melted chocolate. You mite want to add some nuts

  4. Hi! If I am using those plastic storage container drawers to build a mealworm farm, does it matter if I use the 8″x15″ ones? Or will it only really work with the larger, 15″x19″ drawers? Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Nope, it will still work perfectly fine in a smaller container. Just make sure to reduce the amount of feed and meal worms you put into the container.
      Happy Farming!

  5. If you take a 2 liter tub (like a large yogurt pail) and drill a bunch of 1/4 inch holes in it, you can filter half the colony through it and strain out many of the large larvae, pupae, and beetles to give to the girls. What passes through with the uneaten food are eggs and early larval forms; these will grow into late larvae in a few weeks. If you want, you can start a new colony with a dozen beetles.

    1. Hi Mona,
      We normally give our hens mealworms once a week- it’s normally a large handful per 6 hens.

  6. What about cleaning the container? Don’t you have to empty and clean it occasionally? And if you sterilize their food, don’t they need a water source? And finally, what about their, ahem.. castings?
    Thanks for your very informative site!

    1. Hi Elaine,
      I normally clean out the container when I’m starting a new colony.
      Nope they get all their water from the grain which you will feed them!
      Glad it’s helping you,

  7. if your using a heat mat can that go under the tank or must it be in the tank? im thinking if its outside the tank it will be easier to keep clean and will stop the worms climbing up the wire and out the tank!

    1. Hi Stephen,
      I hadn’t considered a matt which goes outside the tank…
      If you can still regulate and set the temperature with the mat outside the tank then yes it will be fine,

  8. One of those seed starting mats would work good for this…you set the trays (In this case your worm container) right down on top of it. Perfect!

  9. just started raising chickens and i spend a bunch on meal worms, want to start a farm asap. I have everything to start except the worms, would a place like tractor supply have them.

      1. Our Tractor Supplies in NW Florida only sell dried meal worms. I have ordered several thousand from Uncle Jims Worm Farm with good results . They are on online worm farm that ships them out to you. The prices are reasonable.
        I am not associated with them in any way I just like their service.
        I started a meal worm farm last spring and they multiplied rapidly. The tip I was give was to give them a slice of apple every few weeks and like the carrot they flock to it. Unfortunately the temperature was so hot that I lost them in August. We also used it for a compost bin for things we didn’t give the chickens. When my chickens saw me walk toward the farm the would get really excited. I hand fed them one live mealworm at a time. At that time I only had 6 layers now we have added a few more. If you scoop them up put them in multiple places or some of your chickens will turn into pigs.lol

      1. Hi my husband and I are starting a meal on the farm I have 2 questions when putting the mesh in the top drawers drawers what size holes should the mesh be And the beetle drawer for the meal humps to fall through? And also once we start mass producing them do we freeze them and put them in a vacuum sealed bag? Or how do you start the process of storing them dried in bags?
        Thank you

  10. I just wonder where my post went. I’m trying to figure out if the worms I’m finding in the poop trays are the mealworms

    1. Hi Elyse,
      Is it possible you can send us an email with photos and we will see if we can identify them!

  11. I have had my meal worms for about a year and there is a lot of fine dust (castings) at the bottom of the bucket. How does one get rid of this without losing eggs, small meal worms etc?

    1. Hi Julia,
      When a large amount of fine dust piles up I normally transfer them into a new bucket/container. Unfortunately I always tend to loose the small eggs when doing this, so I too would be interested to hear if anyone knows how to do this without loosing the eggs?

      1. I haven’t tried this, but what if you transferred the adults and pupa to the new container and then collected the mealworms every day, or even several times a day from the old container until production slowed down significantly. The old container wouldn’t have any adults adding more eggs and the eggs would hatch and you would get lots of mealworms that you can put in the fridge to use while you are waiting on the new batch to produce. Alternatively you can start a new colony, keep the old colony going as usual until the new one was up to good production then harvest everything you can and toss the old one. You will still lose some, but you will not have lower production.

        1. thanks that IS a good idea. I been trying for years to farm but now I know what was wrong. Saw the beatles but not new worms because I was cleaning the batch and sift out the dust losing the eggs.

    2. get screen like door screen or smaller pore hole thing through it. Save both watch for worms in powder one maybe put in apple. If you get worms put it on your plants!

  12. Hi Julia & Claire,
    If one wants to save the eggs in the frass (castings) just put some substrate, whatever you use in a dish tub or the like ….then leave it be in a month give or take you should have mealworms from any eggs in what is often tossed out!

  13. Hi! Good stuff here….my question is this…I just purchase a container of 500 worms. They said put them in the fridge and warm them up to room temp to feed to the hens. Can I start a farm with these that came from the feed store??? Or are there certain ones you need to start with??

    1. Hi Barbara,
      You can start them with worms from the feed store yes.
      Just make sure you didn’t buy them frozen or ‘giant’ ones and you will be fine,

        1. Hi Blake,
          Providing the mealworms are still alive and haven’t been frozen they will be fine 🙂

        2. the ones in bags on the shelf (dried) will not work they are dead. I have NEVER seen live mealworms in any of our local feed stores…. pet stores yes, but they are far more expensive than finding a breeder who sells them, but as long as they aren’t ‘superworms’ or giant meal worms… its all good.

          1. I buy from an online supplier. They get shipped live. I do tell him to have post office hold for me. That way they are not sitting on the door step in crazy Ohio weather.

          2. The meal worms for sale in pet stores SHOULD be kept refrigerated so you don’t see them on show for sale! You need to enquire!

  14. I purchased red mealworms which are bigger then normal mealworms online for my farm. Will I get eggs from them or are they in the giant list you talk about. Thanks, Linda

    1. Hi Linda,
      It sounds to me like these are the giant ones… However, there is nothing to stop you trying with them and seeing if you get eggs.

    2. I bred super worms for my birds and ended up with 3-4 generations before I finally had to stop because I came to college. It can be done and my birds LOVED them!

  15. I buy dried mealworms and give my four layers 2 handfulls everyday which equates to $30/month. Getting 3-4 eggs per day. They love em and i enjoy feeding them cause i belt out the star wars anthem like a chicken. They go nuts as soon as they hear it. Is there such a thing as to many mealworms and if i start a large worm farm can i dehydrate them? Thank you for your input.

    1. Hi Paul,
      You can overdo the mealworms yes. I tend to give them mealworms a couple of times a week now 🙂

  16. Hi, I have been farming mealworms for my quail and chickens for 2 years now. I have my beetles in their own box where they lay their eggs. Every 3-4 weeks i remove the beetles to a new box.and leave the eggs to grow. This way I know there will be no eggs in the frass on the bottom and all the mealworms are the same size. Easy to empty one box and start over.
    Has anyone tried to dry mealworms themselves? I tried and it didn’t go so well. I fried them instead of drying.
    Best regards

      1. Dip them in the chocolate that you can’t feed the chickens! (see I do read your stuff!)
        While I am here, I am computer and site challenged so I do not know where to ask this. On your chicken coop/roosting blog it shows unfinished OSB board inside the coop. Would this not be difficult to clean? Can it be painted or polyurethane to ease the cleaning and increase the sanitation?

    1. Kristina,
      Please forgive me as I am completely new. So, some of the mealworms grow into beetles and you take the live beetles and move them into a seperate container. They lay eggs and then you move them again? Can you dump the new eggs into the first container?

    2. Maybe try a food dehidrater like you would to make dried fruit or jerky they sell small countertop ones you could try

    3. Kristina, Would you sell me some mealworms or eggs or trade for them? You can email me at heartwoman1@hotmail(dot) or facebook Dana Linger

    4. To dry meal worms preheat oven to 200 turn off oven. put worms on cookie sheet put in oven. let sit until pan can be taken out with out hot pad. test for dry if soft reheat oven put then back in after oven is off.

      1. Can you use the mealworms instead of chocolate chips? You get protein instead of sugar. Like you Claire, I don’t think I want to add that to my diet.

  17. I am so going to do this, thank you for such a well written and simple instruction. I had read about separating, sifting etc., and thought that maybe it was too much trouble but clearly it doesn’t have to be.
    One question – do the beetles fly??

  18. I don’t have chickens, but I want to start a mealworms farm for my 2 leopard geckos. It has been getting expensive and tiring to have to go to the pet store for more worms all the time. I am going to have to try this! It sound so simple! Thank you!

  19. Hey, just wandering, about how many worms would you get and in what time frame? I am trying to get some new chickens and am thinking about using meal worms. If they are already getting different supplements would it still be ok if they got meal worms about once a week?

    1. Hi Kimmie,
      I started with a bag of 500 and after a 2 months I had worms ready to feed my hens 🙂

  20. The proper way to farm mealworms:
    I’ve been farming mealworms for over a decade now and this is what has worked for me as well as some of my friends who also farm mealies….First, I want to let everyone know about the dangers of mold. If you see any mold in your farm- TOSS IT! I’m not joking, throw out the entire farm and start over again! Once your farm has been contaminated with mold, you are risking the lives of whatever pet you’re feeding the mealies to. In the 13yrs I’ve been farming mealies, I’ve only ended up having to start over once. This is because I learned my lesson the first time it happened, and I was extra careful after that. Even if you think you’ve taken all the mold out, there could still be unseen particles left in your farm. You also don’t know what beetles or mealies have eaten the mold, so the safest thing to do is to throw out everything, ,thoroughly clean your containers, and start over, being extra careful with whatever water source you’re using (carrots, potatos, or water gel).

  21. So, if I keep them inside (for the heat) is there any risk of the beetles escaping, infesting my home, and causing an insect problem? I’m thinking roaches here and probably shouldn’t be. LOL!

  22. Just wanted to know what happens to all the mealworm waste.
    Do you need to clean the container completely every so often? If so, how and how often?
    Also, I understand that mealworms are consumed in a lot of the Asian countries. If I wanted to consume them what would they need to be fed do you starve them before harvesting to eliminate as much of their waste before harvesting?
    Thanks in advance for your expertise on this.

  23. I buy mealworms at our local bird store and feed them to my bluebirds. At $13.00 per thousand, it is getting expensive, so I will be making a mealworm farm soon. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial!!

  24. I tried to skim through most of the comments here. You don’t have to feed them anything beside the bran? I thought I read to give them kitchen scraps to eat, specifically veggies with a higher water content. Is there any value in that? Or should I just feed them a potato when I want to collect them and that should be sufficient?

    1. Hi Maggie,
      If you don’t want to feed them scraps etc, then you can just use a manufactured pellet which contains all of the nutrients and vitamins they need…

  25. Great information. I’m starting a mealworm Farm because I can’t find any mealworms that don’t come from China. And I trust China like well you know. Who knows what they feed them over there.

  26. My chickens love the dried mealworms I get at a local feed store but want to give them more protein since I am not able to free range them. I am definately make my own farm. Thanks for the detailed instructions. Easy to follow.

  27. i have been mealie farming for 3 years now.. and things have been going really well i went from one bin to 10. but i went into one of my bins with large mealies and most of them were gone from the bottom up, they were almost perfectly in half and i had never in 3 years seen this,, any help greatly needed

    1. Sounds like maybe they were molting? insect shells don’t grow so they split and slough off. Or maybe a beetle hatched and ate them. The larvae will also consume one another sometimes.

  28. I actually raise mealworms for my herps (I raise reptiles and inverts), and this really seemed to work. I used a 20 gallon I had sitting around and my farm has been running for three or four months now just fine.

  29. I am going to raise mealworms on my own. I have so much different information about raising mealworms on your own. I have plastic containers with lids that are 16 1/4 inches L X 11 1/4 inches W x 6 3/4 H. I have about 200 mealworms that I had to buy at THAT FISH PLACE in Lancaster County. I put OATMEAL oats in for bedding. I FEED THEM CARROTS, potatoes, celery,apples. I need to feed a feeder for them yet because I am going to feed them to the blue birds. is there anything else I need to do ?

  30. Thank you for making this so simple, reading this actually encouraged me to start my mealworm Farm. The only suggestion I would make is to add that you need to put potatoes or carrots or some low moisture vegetable in the farm for the moisture and food. Thankfully I ran across another article that told me to do this just as I was wondering about three days in how they obtain moisture. Again great article thanks so much.

  31. I have made my own mealworm farm this morning and am now waiting for them to be ready to be treats for our girls. Can we just feed the live mealworm to the hens, up until now we have been buying meal worm which I obviously not live…?

  32. I have the worms in the prepared container and still wanted to check in with how often to give them a vegetable? Also, why only leave it in for 5 minutes (to avoid mold? should I chop up the vegetable or put in whole?
    I just started and am hoping in 2 months my girls will get weekly treats from this project!

  33. Call me dumb, but I have always bought dried worms to feed my Chickens, Turkeys and Guineas which is very costly and I am so pumped and ready to try this. As I am a newbie, I am confused about feeding them vegetables. Do I need to feed them vegetables as a water source or just to aid in collecting them? I dont want to chance mold production unnecessarily. Thanks soooo much for this awe inspiring article!!

    1. If I read some earlier comments correctly, you are not feeding them the carrot or apple. You are placing in the container for about 5 minutes and the mealworms “attack” it, you then remove it and shake them off into a different container to feed your girls.

  34. A fun fact for anyone interested:
    If you keep a garden, be it flowers, fruits or veggies, sifted mealworm castings are an organic, chemical free way to ‘feed’ your plants. Some people make ‘tea’ out of it where they let the frass ‘steep’ in water, and some people simple sprinkle it on top and water it into the soil (like myself). I’ve had excellent results doing this (my flowers like them quite well and it seems my radishes do too). Given how small they are, they can be ‘rubbed’ together to turn into a finer powder, thus making it easier to ‘water’ into the soil.
    (I do not own a flock. I am a reptile enthusiast who keeps insects as feeders for reptiles. I feel when avian/reptile paths cross, fun and useful information should be shared.)
    Summary/TL;DR version: Save your worm poop, it can feed your garden!

    1. Worm castings is a big deal for organic farmings and you can actually purchase bulk worm castings, in the same way, I agree, mealworm castings are just as beneficial.

  35. I’ve been raising mealworms for several years, just to feed my wild birds so I can watch them on my kitchen window sill. 😉 I prefer the keep-them-separate technique. Put beetles in one pan for a month. Then move the beetles to a new pan and let the babies grow in the other pan for another month. Then pour the babies, with substrate, to a larger pan and add fresh substrate (I use a mixture of wheat bran and oatmeal plus a little powdered milk and ground dog kibble). I harvest the larger worms from this third pan, including a few mature worms and pupae to set aside and make new beetles. When this larger pan gets pretty “frassy”, I shake it bit by bit in a strainer to remove the frass (which goes on the compost pile), put the worms back and add more meal. You can provide water in all three pans with a folded over wet paper towel just laid on top, and they love banana skins, broccoli stems, and other veg and fruit.
    Here’s a question: I had been using Bobs Red Mill wheat bran purchased from grocery store, all was well until last year, when no babies were maturing…?? Could something have been added to the grain products to prevent maturing of pests in grain products intended for human consumption? Where can I get “clean” wheat bran intended for BUG consumption?

  36. If I was to use clear containers with lids for my mealworm farm, would I need to drill holes all over the sides of the tubs to let in air?

    1. Hi Kathleen, maybe the chicken coop people aren’t currently monitoring this blog…? The beetles don’t fly, and the mealworms can’t normally climb up the side of a pan or tub, so you don’t need to keep a lid on it. In fact it’s usually better not to, because even though you need to sometimes provide them a source of moisture, you DON’T want it to stay moist, get moldy, stink, etc.

    2. We missed this comment actually. We try to get to them all but always encourage others to participate. Sandra is right! Thanks for the input.

      1. I have a rubbermaid type tub we use for compost. Now my chickens eat almost everything we were composting. The compost left in the bin has earth worms and worms that look like meal worms. How do I get them out of the partially finished compost. The compost has pieces of different sizes and we have at least 15 pound of it.

    1. This is the exact reason why I have read through all of these comments!! I have a problem with little white bugs! My meal worms are in plastic drawer style bins, and the bugs are on the outside! How do I get rid of them?

      1. It means the meal you fed them was infested. Get rid of bran, thouroghly clean and disinfect container. Start new colony. DO heat treat bran/oats, etc. before feeding. (150 degrees for 30 min. in oven) then place in tightly sealed container until adding to mealworm farm.

  37. Need a place to raise them? I started on Craigslist with no luck. Then went to FB Marketplace BINGO. 5 tanks $2.00 each, and they do not hold water. I avoided the 55 gallon ones because of the weight.

  38. I have an idea to grow the mealworms under the deep litter pine bedding I use. I have a sort of walkway for the chickens that stays dry. I figure I can drop a scoop of feed and 500 worms on the bottom of the litter bin and let them do their thing. Will this work.

  39. I’m so excited to try making my own mealworm farm! I’ve been looking for a sustainable and cost-effective source of protein for my chickens and this looks like the perfect solution. Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *