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Bug preservation for winter feed

 
A J Heeren
Posts: 3
Location: New England
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I'm thinking about preserving black soldier fly larvae for winter chicken feed. Since the BSF are reared in the warmer months while our foraging friends have access to fresh insects in rotating paddocks, why not try to store this protein and fat rich food for when the ground is frozen (also trying to cut back on purchased feed)? We thought about dehydrating the BSF, but it seems a little too involved. Maybe we can take the BSF from their housing and placed them directly in a jar of brine to ferment? Or maybe freezing them and thawing small batches as needed? Has anyone tried this or something similar before?
 
Thomas Partridge
Posts: 130
Location: Zone 7a
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I would recommend trying to freeze them. You will need to decide however if you want to freeze them in a "single serve" size (i.e. the ration you will give each day) or into a larger block that you will break up each day. A really interesting idea would be to freeze them in an ice cube tray and give the chickens a set number of cubes each day.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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They could be frozen to death and then dehydrated (ideally in a solar dehydrator). This way they could be processed in easy to manage batches throughout the summer, and stored in jars for winter use.
 
Angie O'Connor
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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I don't know how easy it is to collect these bugs. Can't say the idea of foraging enough insects in the summer to freeze for my chickens to enjoy in the winter is very motivating to me.

A project I have recently started to provide extra protien and treats for my ladies is raising meal worms. They're stupendously easy to raise, don't smell, are cheap to aquire and are an excellent source of protien. Plus the chickens go crazy for them. All one needs is a tupperware container, or a few depending how you decide to set things up. Then back some oatmeal, wheat bran or cornmeal in the oven at 250^ for about 20 minutes to kill any potential mites. Put this in the tupperware with some chopped up potatoes, carrots or tomatoes - these are the worms source of water. Then just add worms! Presto, meal worm farm.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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People raise Black Soldier Fly larvae in bins like you're raising the mealworms. The great thing about BSF is they don't require any potentially storebought food such as cornmeal, they live on decaying plant material and other "garbage." They've been much more successful for me than red wiggler, in fact, they have often taken over my worm bins. Because they are maggots, though, it takes some getting used to handling them.

The critters I find easiest to feed to my chickens are pillbugs and sowbugs, who thrive in my garden and are easy to collect by the handful. As soon as new chicks are up and looking for food, I start putting in handfuls of garden soil and these arthropods.
 
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