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Black Soldier Fly Feeding Station

 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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So this is a variation on the Maggot Feeding Station idea, so the question may have been answered already.
But that thread was getting so long I decided to start a new one.

Couldn't you build a BSF enclosure, with the larvae outlet tube directed into the chicken coop/paddock/run.

This would seem to be much more attractive to a backyard setup, or anyplace else you didn't want the stench of a maggot feeder.

Thoughts ??
 
Jordan Lowery
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Unless you have a huge productive bsf bin the dominant chickens will get all the bsf as they drop one at a time. When they go into a bucket and you toss a few hundred out each chicken gets some and some bsf get away to repopulate. They also sit around that tube all day bs going out in hopefully your paddocks. Creating a bald area full of poop.
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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I hadn't thought through that part (dominant chicken, bald spot filled with poop)...
So revised plan then.

A more traditional BSF bin:
- outlet into a container, to broadcast larvae to chickens
- relatively close to the worm bin, to allow easy distribution of non-worm-food
- relatively close to chicken coop/paddock, for easy & frequent chicken feeding

 
Ollie Puddlemaker
Posts: 148
Location: Houston, Tesas
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Matt Saager wrote:I hadn't thought through that part (dominant chicken, bald spot filled with poop)...
So revised plan then.

A more traditional BSF bin:
- outlet into a container, to broadcast larvae to chickens
- relatively close to the worm bin, to allow easy distribution of non-worm-food
- relatively close to chicken coop/paddock, for easy & frequent chicken feeding



To close to your worm bin and the BSF will infect, easily overtake and deplete the worm's food source due to their faster increasing numbers and appetite(s). The worms are not able to do anything about it.
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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No kidding I've never heard that.
I have had some BSF's in the worm bin before, a few larvae, not too many though.

The bin is a converted horse water trough, with a plywood lid that sits pretty tight.
I wonder if it would still get over-run with BSF's ??
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
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Location: Houston, Tesas
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Matt Saager wrote:No kidding I've never heard that.
I have had some BSF's in the worm bin before, a few larvae, not too many though.

The bin is a converted horse water trough, with a plywood lid that sits pretty tight.
I wonder if it would still get over-run with BSF's ??


Here are some points to keep in mind and/or consider -

Black soldier flies begin as an egg, which takes 102-105 hours to hatch. They emerge as a larvae that is already voraciously hungry and rapidly consumes any and all food available. BSF are not picky about what kind it is. After about 2 weeks the larvae reach maturity. If the temperature is not ideal or there is not enough food, they could take several months to mature. At that time, their mouth is replaced by an appendage that helps them crawl out of the container, and they stop eating. Now, the mature adult BSF will fly away to mate and die.

Worms process about three times their weight in food scraps per week. If you assume five pounds of worms would be a substantial quantity and that they would consume 15 pounds of food per week. Compare this to a BSFL colony in a 2 foot diameter container that can process 11 pounds of food EVERY DAY! Even with 10 pounds of worms you would still be limited to just 30 pounds of scraps per week.

Worms require a fairly specific environment with regards to moisture, ph, and temperature. Different sources recommend keeping worms at a minimum of 54 and up to 70-84 degrees, depending on the source of the information. BSFL are much more hardy and tolerant. In addition, the BSF willing to eat anything. They can survive temperatures as low as just above freezing up to about 100 degrees. Once some BSFL were tested by being submerged in isopropyl alcohol for two hours, and they survived.
You see, if enough BSF can enter or reproduce enough in your worm bin, they can outnumber by the faster reproduction and with a greater appetite, they can starve your worms very quickly.

BSF are GREAT at breaking down food waste and converting it into living protein. They are not real good soil builders, their digestive track is short. They can eat things in a very short amount of time like meats and diary, that otherwise would compromise a worm bin. They shred the waste first and release moisture. This requires adequate drainage while the earth works at a slower pace preventing the quick release of cellular moisture. BSF are niche dominant and will raise the temperature in your worm bin to a level not comfortable for the worms and eat all the available food.

Worms are GREAT at building soil. They have a long digestive track, their castings are valuable and they are able to break down some of the harder to digest plant matter that has little nutrient content for the BSF. They do not tolerate high-temperatures as the grubs and take a longer time to reproduce. Worms do not reproduce as quickly as grubs do and are, therefore more valuable as a recycling organism. Harvesting worms to feed to chickens only makes sense when you have a lot of worms relative to the number of chickens.

My conclusion: Do like nature does... When something dies in the forest, maggots are the first line of decomposition... Earthworms finish this process and create fertile soil. We, too, can simulate this in different stages and locations. Recognize their merits and values and try not to improperly combine or short-cut the process.
 
Jamie Holcomb
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I posted this in the other feed but seems how you started a new one I will ask it here as well. Question though I live in Michigan and I am not sure if we have BSF's or not. How do I go about getting some to start with or do I just set up the compost and let nature run it's course? We certainly have plenty of fly's in our neck of the woods so would any type that happened to set up shop work the same way? We have an abundance of deer fly's I am sure would be willing to help out if any type of fly will work.
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
Posts: 148
Location: Houston, Tesas
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Dried corn kernels soaked in water are the best bait for attracting BSF females, that I have tried. I am currently using a batch, that I began soaking over a month ago. Once fermented, the corn and water give off a strong, sour smell that is great for attracting black soldier fly females.

One advantage of this method is that you don’t need to deal with food scraps which tend to become moldy and also attract a lot of undesired species. I did see a few fruit flies and other small flying insects in and around the corn, but compared to other baits I’ve used corn is best in this regard. Most notable is the absence of blow flies and to a great extent, house flies.

If you are worried about the smell of the corn you can control it by keeping it partially covered. If you can smell it slightly from a few yards/meters away that should work fine. The BSF have a good nose for these types of scents.

I think you can always buy “Phoenix worms” which are BSF larvae online and in pet stores, but the cost is high.

I won’t say that BSF aren’t in Michigan, but that hardiness zone is pretty cold for them. There is evidence that they’re present in Champaigne, IL, so maybe there’s hope for a bit further north. If I were you, I would start talking with people who do a lot of composting in your area, because compost piles usually have BSF larvae present when there is a wild population. The kitchen scraps are important, because BSFL are not designed to consume high-cellulose items like grass, leaves and paper. If you can collect some larvae from a compost pile you probably won’t have enough to fully populate your composter, but the larvae themselves are a powerful attractant to egg-laden females. Add the collected larvae to your BSF unit along with some of the compost they were found in. As mentioned above; keep the material moist and warm and the subtle scent of the larvae, plus the odor of the food scraps will work very well. You can often find eggs that have been laid in household garbage cans. Consider that a typical garbage can has all of the elements to satisfy the basic requirements for attracting BSF; they contain decomposing food, and they tend to be moist and warm inside. When I want to attract BSF, I leave one of our garbage cans full for an extended period, so that it starts to give off a noticeable odor. In my experience, it works like a BSF magnet. Since, we use black can liners the light-colored eggs show up very clearly.

It makes sense that your odds of successfully attracting BSF females will be higher, if you set out bait in multiple locations on the same or different properties. Of course, you can choose to attract BSF directly to your composter, but using a separate container for bait makes it easier to experiment with different locations, if you don’t want to move your composter around. While you can use almost any container for the bait you will probably have better results, if you use something that supports the goals of keeping the bait moist and warm. It’s also a good idea to prevent excessive rainfall from entering and flooding or diluting the food scraps. Your attractor unit can be as simple as a bucket with a lid and few holes cut into the sides.

Initially you will attract houseflies and possibly fruit flies with soured corn – until your BSF population gets established, then they will stay away, due to the larvae’s pheromone excretions.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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