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Mealworm Farm - efficient protein in a small space

 
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Soy is currently one of the cheapest protein sources available for backyard farmers. The Mealworm Farm changes that. Mealworms can produce quality protein at a fraction of the cost of soy, and they integrate well with other animals, like herbivores, where they convert manure into protein for omnivores, like chickens, fish, pigs, and dogs.

The Mealworm Farm can produce 1.5 lbs of protein from 1.5 square feet of space, all from waste products. The farm is modular, you can add more as your protein needs or waste sources dictate.

We separate life stages in this design to optimize production and use the mealworm's natural tendencies to sift eggs, frass, and self-clean before harvest. The whole thing can fit in the corner of a spare room. To harvest, just pull out the harvest tray and grab a bunch of mealworms!

http://velacreations.com/howto/mealworm-farm/
 
Posts: 1976
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
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Way too much work for me. This is my mealworm farm. Put in rubbermaid tub, feed occasionally and then forget they exist until you're like, oh yeah I can be feeding these things to the chickens. Then BAM MILLIONS.
mealworms.jpg
[Thumbnail for mealworms.jpg]
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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yeah, we used to do ours like that until we realized how much work sifting and cleaning is, and how much productivity we lost due to having the stages together. We optimize this for real production, 1.5 lbs a week of mealworms! With our colony setup, we may have gotten that much over several months, MAYBE.

The colony style works great if you want a few handfuls here and there, but for serious production, separating the life stages and letting the mealworms sift themselves is a better way to go.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1976
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Perhaps. I've never looked into it really. I have so many different things going that lazy is the way I do things. Set them and forget them. I don't harvest a lot and when I do the kids do most of it for me. They like the bugs. Perhaps if I get bigger I'll look into a different method.
 
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Mealworms are cannibals. In theory it benefits production to separate the stages. I've done some experimenting and found that the beetles eventually chew through fiberglass mesh! Do you use stainless steel mesh Abe Connally? Another thing I found is that eventually the mesh gets clogged up with whatever is in the container and neonates don't fall into the container below. I've fed my mealworms primarily residue from my brewery (thoroughly washed out all alcohol). The idea is to close the loop. They munch it but a lot have died over time and quite a lot emerge deformed from the pupae stage. Just a simple experiment, no control group (shame on me) so hard to draw conclusions. Probably >50% has died over the course of 3 months. Enough made it to the adult stage to produce offspring. There's a rampant orgy going on as we speak. I'm continuing with the same diet to see if the population has adapted to it. elle sagenev, perhaps the "lazy" approach is best. In that case I'm curious about your harvesting method.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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we use plastic mesh, but we haven't had any chew through. I use a rough thing, like rolled oats for the beetle trays, and that seems to keep things clear.

The deformities can also be due to temperature and diet.
 
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