I can vouch for the awesomeness of BSFL (Black Soldier Fly Larvae). They are incredibly-fast and non-picky eaters, eating pretty much anything they can bite into, including the stuff vermicomposting worms don't like. However, they have difficulty processing certain hard materials like eggshells, hard seeds, cellulose plant materials, animal bones, etc .... unless pulverized. I've experimented with throwing these types of materials into a Vitamix blender, which pulverizes everything into a 'smoothie'. I then dump it into the BSFL bin and it is literally gone within an hour. And yes, they love poo from anything. I can now get a little less annoyed when my dog leaves landmines, since it's a nice treat for the BSFL. Yes, they are excellent processors of humanure too, although I've not yet used them for that. Too bad lotsa people are so grossed out by the talk of poo... I think we need to start realizing the stuff is gold in the grand circle of life.
Long thread...I have to admit I didn't read the entire thing. However...
What you may want to look into is rearing black soldier flies. They will eat anything...even an entire mongoose! They are attracted naturally, so there is no stocking, and if you build the growth area correctly there is no maintenance other than throwing in kitchen scraps. It is a self-feeding contraption that will give constant streams of fresh protein to your chickens or fish. We use it in our aquaponics and chicken areas.
i eventually plan to do this to make use of meat and fat scraps that are left from the table, instead of throwing them away, they go in the bucket, with a handful of straw, leaves, woodchips or sawdust to lock up any potential stench, the maggots eat all the meat gone and then you take the bones that are left and use them to make bone salve for your trees, even using chicken meat i dont see any risk because they arent eating the meat, theyre eating the maggots...
I've had really good luck with the maggot bucket so far. Make sure to have lots of holes in the bottom so that the maggots can get out easily and rain can drain through quickly too. I add a good layer of hay on the bottom and then freshly dead critters like rats, mice, chipmunks or fresh guts from processed chickens. Then I add another layer of hay to fill the bucket up to the top. I hang it up about a foot off the ground and let nature do the rest. Flies show up for the first day or so then the maggots start pouring out of the top and bottom of the bucket for another week. I get a little smell but not too bad and the chickens don't seem to mind at all. That bucket is their first stop in the morning when they come out of the coop. They seem to go back to it every hour to check for more maggots.
Great! These flies are wonderful!
Any more tries?
I have to see if this BSfly lives in zone 11!
I had planned a worm compost, in stones and concrete with tubes to let the liquid out, and an opening side t wheelbarrow level so that it easy to handle.
So I think it would be great to add a BSF compost on the higher side.
I have read it is great to put the fly compost into the worm compost...
This is a very interesting thread. 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?
I lay sheets of corrogated iron over weeds, and places I want clear of long grass, along paths. Or fence lines, or around sheds. Leave for 1. 2. 3 months. DO lift carefully, tho, remembering there may be a rare snake sheltering. I find they are as gobsmacked as me. I apologise and gently replace what I've lifted, and leave it However, that hasn't happened with sheet tin, but when I went to move an old unused kennel. If need be, put rocks on top of tin, to flatten. I have about 20. Every month or two, I move one, to flatten opposite side, or cover other weeds. I always check for little lizards, and I always try to rescue worms, because I love them so, anything exciting, but there are always slaters, etc and the magpies and chooks have learnt to come over when I call.
We use maggot buckets extensively on our farm to feed protein rich pupae to the ladies. I've noticed all the benefits of the extra bug material (increased egg supply, healthier, happier hens, etc)* and it's free and easy and when done right, we haven't ever been aware of a smell.
Some notes from our experiments:
1) Use a five gallon bucket with a lid that attaches - obviously. But taking it a step further, the buckets I use also have a bungee cord that secures the lid in place. Because...you know, raccoons. And dogs.
2) Drill the holes about 1 inch in diameter - smaller holes get clogged by the litter in the bucket and the maggots can't get out. We drill them 2 inches up from the bottom, and 6 inches up from the bottom - sporadically around the bucket sides. Also two holes up near the top.
3) Hang WELL AWAY from where the hens bed down at night. At least 20 feet, if you can. If the smell attracts any varmints, we want the ladies well removed from them. We also close up the hens at night in an elevated coop for added security.
4) DON'T OVERLOAD THE BUCKETS. I can't stress this enough. Substrate we use is wood chips and leaves. We put the equivalent of half a mature hen size carcass or lump of meat in there. Anything bigger than that has overloaded the substrate (smelly and grody) and/or not broken down fast enough.
5) If using the full carcass of an animal, cut it open first - expose as much of the interior as possible. Just a quick cut from navel to neck does the trick.
6) We hang them off of trees about 3-4 feet off the ground. Just works better than being right next to the ground. The hens can get under the bucket and really work it out.
I came upon this idea when I noticed that the hens were working the area around our garbage cans with a particular zeal. After checking it out, I saw some food that had been put in there uncovered and the maggots were drip- dropping onto the ground. Once I got over the I'm-Gonna-Hurl initial gross-out, I developed the bucket idea from that and was so very happy when I saw that this was a "thing" because I thought maybe I was just being a weirdo.
This, in my opinion, is ever so much easier than raising meal worms. And black soldier flies don't make it through the winters here - we tried them for a while. But really, to be honest, the sound of earnest manducation from the BSF trough as they worked through the leavings of our chicken harvest was too much for me. Like, I can butcher a thing, but listening to them little buggers chew and slosh through the innards was too much for my delicate sensibilities.
* I've also noticed the disgusted looks from some people who I tell about it. I just tell them if they keep looking like that, their face is gonna stick that way. But I say it with a lot of charm.