Chickens like mealworms, I like my chickens. So I’m going to do them a favor and supply them with some fresh, chrunchy and delicious protein snacks from time to time. A mealworm farm is an easy to maintain and cheap means of making the girls happy.
I had a small mealworm hatchery many years ago, when I was a teenager and kept salamanders in a terrarium, now I want to take a step ahead and do the same, just a little bigger in size.
Mealworms are easily available for a small buck in fishing or pet supplies stores, since they make good bait and they’re a nutritious diet for a wide range of pet animals. Storing and proliferating them is no-fuzz, so once you’ve bought a bunch and keep an occasional eye on them they willingly replenish themselves.
There is a vast amount of instructions and information on the internet (really useful and educational examples here or here) on how to make a hatchery and on how to keep and breed these insects. This one is just my cheap and makeshift solution.
Short breakdown on mealworms:
Mealworms are not worms, but the larvae of the darkling beetle (german “Mehlkäfer” or “Schwarzkäfer”). Their (common insect-) lifecycle begins with the bugs mating and producing large amounts of eggs that eventually develop into tasty larvae – the mealworms. These guys in turn transform into so called puppae, which eventually undergo metamorphosis into the final beetle. This process takes about 3-4 months. Rinse and repeat.
Basic mealworm keeping:
Mealworms can easily thrive on a mixture of wheat bran or oats and some ordinary cardboard shreds, occasionally (about once a week) garnished with some scraps of carrot, a banana peel or a slice of potato, just for moisture. They don’t care too much about light, but grow and reproduce best at a little above room temperature and at average humidity. Thus, the necessary by-the-way maintenance is almost no work at all.
The only thing I remember that really went wrong years ago was when my worm box got moldy and overgrown with mildew, so I had to throw it all away just to be on the safe side.