Why Dried Mealworms Are Irresistible?

  • No Comments
dried mealworms

What you may be asking yourself right now probably is ‘’ what are mealworms’’ you might actually be surprised when you realize that mealworms aren’t worms. Mealworms are just larvae of the darkling beetle.

Just like the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly during its life stages, darkling beetles also changes into mealworms after which it changes into pupa and finally into darkling mealworm larvae. Dried mealworms are just but mealworms that have been dried through various means like heating or freeze-drying.

Mealworms are normally used as food for a wide variety of animals including birds, poultry, hedgehogs and fish. And so many other pet animals. Most people now days use mealworms to attract birds. The good thing with mealworms is that they are the best food to feed any bird or pet at your home. But why are mealworms loved by many people that some have even opted to make garden worms in their homes?

Mealworms are 100% natural

The basic diet of mealworms is normally vegetables, cereals and grain. Though the composition of each batch of mealworm can vary. Most of them are 100% natural. What makes the natural composition of mealworms to vary is normally the age at which the mealworms were dried, the type of drying process that was used and also the size of the mealworm. 

Usually, a typical mealworm contains 5% moisture, 6% fiber, 28 % fat and 53% protein.  The primary diet of mealworm being vegetable, cereals, and grain, it is, therefore, natural and good for animals and that is the reason why it is loved by so many people.

They are easily available in bulk

The packaging of mealworms available varies from 11 billion bags to multiple pallet loads. Dried mealworms packages normally vary from 11 bags and above. Whether you are buying mealworms for birds, fish or turtles, the dried ones will be the best one for you.

Listings information for mealworm packages are normally available online. Normally, it is 11lb, 22lb, 33lb, 44lb and even up to 66lbs. Packaging is normally done in multiples of 11. You can even get more packages than the ones above and take advantage of bulk discounts when buying mealworms.

They are easy to dry

If you decide to produce mealworms in your home, you may find that you produce more than you can use. In this case, you may be forced to preserve them for future use. Drying will help to reduce the storage space.

Dried mealworms can stay good without the need for refrigeration for up to one year. Its proteins are also better preserved when they bare dried. The best method to dry them normally is roasting though you can also use the freeze-dry method.

They are excellent with the poultry

Mealworms may look terrible to us but to chicken, they are appealing at all. To the poultry, they are tasty as a home cooked meal cooked by the one who loved you. To them, they have a sweet taste that they can even drive your animals wild with the lust for more. Actually, mealworm is good for the chicken because of the following reasons;

  •  A little goes a long way. You do not have to use a lot of mealworms to make the entire chicken meal. You just use a little, and there you have your chicken meal.
  • They give chicken proteins to improve their laying ability.
  • They help chicken go through the molting season. They ensure that chicken develops its feathers within the shortest time possible.
  • Rich protein value of the mealworms makes the chicken lay eggs rich in protein.
  • Mealworms reduce the stress of turning the bedding as they will do it themselves.
  • It is just exciting to see how eggs scramble and munch mealworms.
  • Your chicken will fall in love with you

It is easy to care for the mealworms

Caring for the mealworm

Caring for the mealworms is easy. First of all, mealworms are not complicated in their choice of food. In fact, the food they eat is the bedding that they lie on. You just put cereals or grain in their home.

You are not supposed to put water in their beddings to keep them dehydrated. You only give them food with water to keep them dehydrated.  You give them food like potatoes and carrots. You also need to change their vegetable after five to seven days.

Shelter

When it comes to shelter, mealworms need to be housed in a container which is 8 cm deep. The material of the container should be smooth like plastic, metal or even glass. The reason for that is that mealworms can easily escape from the container and therefore, anything that can help them escape should be avoided.

You are also not supposed to put the lid on the container as they cannot fly. You can only use the lid to avoid spilling over of the mealworms. But when you do that, you need to make sure that you make holes for ventilation.

Caring for the life stages

When caring for the life stages, you need only to make sure that you don’t keep the stages close together. The reason for this is that as the metamorphosis progresses, the larvae and the mature beetle may end up eating the defenseless and the immobile pupa.

The pupa should, therefore, be stored in a different container which should be lined with a paper towel. Mealworms at this stage do not require any food. It is normally good to store mealworms at different stages at their ideal conditions, but that could be cumbersome.

Cleaning

To collect the poops from the mealworms which are normally in sandy form is easy. You just place a sieve, and the poop will fall through together with the eggs as they are very small. You can decide to make a colony by storing the poop separately with food and vegetable up to the point when larvae are big enough to pick out.

Harvesting

When harvesting them, you just need to separate them from the beddings by sieving them. You can also allow them to climb a scree type material because they like that and then you can pick them out from there.

Read more:
How To Make Your Own Dried Mealworms?

How To Make Your Own Dried Mealworms?

  • No Comments

Dried mealworms are nowadays being widely used to feed chicken, reptiles, fish, rodents and other pet animals. If you have some pets in your home, it is crucial for you to make your own dried mealworms as buying them can be expensive in the long run.

You just set up your own structure to garden worms. It is less expensive compared to buying dried mealworms from the shop.

The following is the procedure for making your own dried mealworms:

Setup

1. First gather the supplies

  • Dry oatmeal, or cornmeal.
  • Three containers with air-holes drilled in the tops.
  • An organic source of moisture that does not mold quickly. Carrots work best for this, but other fruits and vegetables such as sliced or chopped potatoes or apples are also good.
  • Mealworms, also best known as a darkling beetle larva. You can begin with anywhere from 500 to 1000.
  • Several bits of cardboard or used toilet paper rolls.

2. Pour one-inch layer of oats or cornmeal into the bottom of each plastic that you had collected. This will serve as the bedding and food for the growing mealworms.

3. Put some vegetable slices into each of the bin. You may use any type of fruit or vegetable for this case. You can use celery, lettuce, apples or even potatoes. Carrots are normally considered the best as they take longer before they develop molds and rot. If you decide to use sources of moisture, you need to make sure that you replace them more often.

4. You then put the live mealworms into one of the containers. Some farmers add slices of bread to the mix. There are also those who use ground up cereal and dry dog food.

5. Put a few pieces of cardboard or toilet rolls on top of the oats. This is because developing mealworms normally enjoy staying in the darkness.

6. Label all the containers clearly. One of the containers will be for the mealworms at the larva stage the other one for the pupa and the last one for the adult beetles.

7. You then cover all the containers and place them in a dark area with warm. The reason for this is that warmth fastens up the process of the life cycle of mealworms and so will pupate faster if they are placed in a warm place. Developing mealworms also prefer staying in the darkness than in the light. Therefore, you need to place them in the darkness so that they develop comfortably.

Upkeep

1. Maintain the containers from time to time. Some farmers like to check the progress of the mealworms on a daily basis. There are also those who check them only once per week.

  • When checking them, you need to make sure that you remove any rotting material, clumps of mold from the oatmeal. You also need to remove dead insects from the container.
  • You also need to make sure that you add vegetables and oatmeal substrate as required. you also make sure that you turn the beddings to prevent molds from growing.

2. Check the pupa in the mealworm habitat. Depending on the temperature you put your mealworms, and the age of the mealworms when you bought them, the process of transformation from the larva stage to the pupa stage takes approximately one week to a couple of months.

  • The maturity of the mealworm is shown by the gradual darkening of the color in every stage of the life cycle.
  • Pupa usually starts off with extreme pale white color and more so look like curled up beetles than the normal segmented worms.
  • When monitoring them, you will notice that mealworms shed of their skin many times before becoming pupa. You need not to worry about this as it is normal for the mealworm to molt.

3.    Separate the pupa as soon as you see them. If it becomes hard for you to separate them, you are advised to use tweezers.

  • Pupa normally does not move around and also do not require food. Also, moisture does not hurt them. But when you give them food, you need to ensure that you place the food away from the moisture as pupa do not eat food which is in moisture.
  • Larva are separated from the adults because the larva can be eaten easily by the adults and therefore, denied the chance to survive.
  • Pupa stage normally takes about one to several weeks depending on the temperature you put your mealworms. When they are ready to hatch, you will know that as they at that time begin to darken in color.

4.    Continue monitoring the two containers for advances in the life cycle

Monitoring is important as you will be having more insects at various stages of the development of the mealworm.

5.    Immediately remove adults from the pupa container. This is because the adult beetles will start feeding on the mealworms at the pupa stage if they are not removed immediately.

  • You need to place the adult beetles into a separate container with the same the same set up as the mealworms. You can even add more oatmeal for them to have more room to nest.

6.    Regularly check the adult beetles for eggs. Adult beetles will more often bear eggs and you, therefore, need to check them from time to time.

  • Ensure that you remove the eggs. More of eggs normally serve as an indication that there will be more larva soon.
  • Adult females normally bear about 500 eggs at a time.
  • The eggs will hatch within 4-19 days depending on the temperature of the place where they are in.

7.    Remove the mealworms from the adult beetle container and into the mealworm container upon hatching. Actually, you will have a lot of things to do as females lays so many eggs at once.

8.    Maintain the habitat regularly. This includes changing the food and the moisture sources, ensuring that the insects are separated accordingly, removing the dead insects from the container and also regularly turning the bedding.

9.    Dry the mealworms

There are various means to dry the mealworms. You can use either of the following ways;

  • Gas or electric oven
  • Freeze-drying equipment
  • Dehydrator
  • Powdered calcium supplement or any other mineral supplement or vitamin
  • If you notice that you are producing more mealworms than you need, you can freeze some and eat them yourself. You should never release them to the wild. You can also use some pupae to feed the adult beetles or even place extra mealworms into the bird feeder in your yard.

Other Sources:


How To Use The Chicken Egg Incubator

  • No Comments

A chicken egg incubator is simply an artificial method for hatching eggs. You don’t need the chicken when using an incubator. It mimics the right conditions under which eggs hatch.

Proper calibration is necessary and key to using the incubator. It is all about getting the right conditions – temperature, humidity and ventilation levels. The conditions must remain stable during the whole process.

If you are new to chicken egg incubators and are wondering how to start, you are at the right place. we have split this guide into four steps for easy understanding .

incubator
image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Step 1: Get ready to use the incubator

Pick the right incubator

The first thing to you will need is to get the right incubator. Go through different chicken egg incubator reviews, considering the type and the model you wish to use.

Since there are different types, you must be weary when selecting especially the cheap ones. They probably have manual controls only which means you will need to set aside time to control everything.  

Clean it

Vacuum or wipe off any debris that may be on the incubator. You may not see them, but they are always there, so use a clean piece of cloth or sponge to get rid of such.

Make sure you wear gloves to avoiding bleaching yourself. Cleaning is very necessary, particular if you bought is used.

Place it is the right location

The most ideal condition for the incubator is a place with little or no temperature.  The best room conditions are 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not place it near a window.

Plug it

Plug it correctly is a power outlet. Ensure the place is strong enough to hold it.

Add warm water to the humidity pan

There should be directions on the instructions booklet.

Calibrate the temperature

This procedure should take place at least 24 hours before you start using it.  Adjust the thermometer to properly measure the temperature around. The heat source should read between 99 and 102 Fahrenheit.

Wait for about 24 hours before checking the temperature again. Don’t add the eggs if you notice a difference. They will not hatch well is the temperature is outside the range.

Get the eggs

Get fertile eggs that are about 7 to 10 days old. These are the most viable ones for hatching. Get eggs from a good farmer and consider how many you want to hatch.

Expect about 50 to 75% of the eggs to hatch. But it may be higher. The goal is to get the number of eggs based on this.

Store the eggs in cartons. Keep in mind the temperature in the cartons to be 40 to 70 degrees F. Keep rotating them until you are ready to hatch.

Step 2: Incubate the eggs

This is a very delicate process. It will very much affect the overall results for the whole process.

Be sure to wash your hands first whenever you are handling eggs. The aim is to keep potential bacteria from transferring to the eggs.

Warm the eggs

Temperature fluctuations are a threat to incubation. This is why it is vital to warm the eggs to room temperature.

Mark the eggs

This whole process will require you at some point to keep changing the eggs. Use a pen to mark both sides of the eggs so that you don’t confuse when changing.  Use something like X and O to remember the turning sequence.

Place them in the incubator

The eggs should be lying on their sides. To protect the embryo form misaligning, consider placing the larger end slightly higher to the pointy end. Be very careful during this process as you can easily break them. Space them evenly – not too near to the edges.

Wait for the temperature to drop

Do not be alarmed if the temperature drops after placing the eggs. It will come back to normal soon, as long as you have set it correctly.  Do not be tempted to increase the temperature here. This will highly affect the embryo and may even kill it.

Keep the record

When and how many eggs have you placed in the incubator? It takes about 21 eggs for chicken eggs to hatch; you should start counting from this day.

Turning the eggs

This is an exercise you should be ready to do at least 3 times every day. This process helps mitigate any effects from temperature changes.

Use the symbols you made to know where or not you have turned the eggs. While on it, check for cracked ones and remove them immediately.

Shift the eggs from position to position in the incubator. Let the eggs be for the last three days.

Set the right humidity

In the whole period, be sure to keep the humidity at 45 to 50%. But these levels depend on the eggs. Some may require higher while others can do well in lower humidity.

Use a hygrometer or a wet bulb/dry bulb to record the humidity. Measure the temperature as well. Use a psychometric chart to get the relative readings. Keep adding in warm water for humidity. A sponge in the water pan can also keep the humidity in check.

Ventilation

There must be proper ventilation in the incubator. Check for openings on the sides and top. They should be at least partially open at all times to allow fresh air in.

chicken egg incubator

Step 3: Candling

After 7 to 10 days, candle the eggs to view the space occupied by the embryo. There should be development already. Remove eggs that have no viable embryos.

Use a tin can or a box that can fit over the egg, hold one egg over the hole and light the bulb.

egg incubator

Step 4: Hatching

The best chicken egg incubator for the money is the one that gives you maximum yield. By now you should already know how many eggs will hatch. Stop turning the eggs 3 days before the day you estimated.

Take cheesecloth and place it under the egg tray before the hatching begins. It will catch bits of eggshells and other staff.

Increase the level of humidity to about 65%. Then leave it closed until they are completely hatched. Leave the chicks in the incubator until they dry well. This may be after 1 or 2 days under at 95 degrees F. Now you can remove the empty shells, clean the incubator and start a new process.

Sources:

https://www.grit.com/animals/incubating-chicken-eggs