If you want to feed insects to your chickens, black soldier fly larvae are probably the easiest and cheapest option. Unlike mealworms, you won’t need to buy storebought food for the insects, and you won’t need to buy pheremones every year like you would for Japanese beetles.
What are black soldier fly larvae? The little grubs are the larval stage of a flying insect that is naturally found in U.S. zones 7 to 10 (and maybe a little beyond that — we’re in zone 6 and I’ve found them in my garden.) The adults look a bit like minuscule wasps, but they don’t sting. The larvae look like dark, flat grubs.
I first saw black soldier fly larvae in my outdoors worm bin when I added too much wet, high nitrogen waste at once. The adult black soldier fly lays its eggs in rotting fruits and vegetables, manure, or meat scraps, and within two weeks the eggs have hatched and turned into mature larvae. Then the larvae crawl out of the feed so that they can pupate in the ground.
If you want to go the easy route, you can buy a special bin (the Bio-Pod) for $180 which will make your black soldier fly operation completely painless. The bin is just a spot to put your rotting fruits and vegetables, with a ramp that allows the larvae to crawl out into a collection container. All you have to do is add food waste then take the larvae to the chickens once a day.
We don’t want to pony up that much cash, so we plan to try to build our own bin this summer. Check out this article for information on what a good bin looks like.
|This post is part of our Homemade Chicken Feed series. Read all of the entries: