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Raising Cockroaches  RSS feed

 
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I recently ran into an interesting fellow in an art club, and now we are working together to bring cockroach farming to America. Dr George Beccaloni (biologist) is aiding me a great deal in this project and without his initial suggestion and wealth of knowledge it would not be feasible. We have arrived together at the conclusion that the safest bet is to raise tropical flightless roaches from Africa in a controlled environment. A small but well sealed outbuilding should be sufficient for my pilot project. I hope to harvest enough roaches for supplimenting my fowls' and pigs' diets, making medicine, and to prove beyond any doubt that any farmer can raise their own livestock protein suppliments sustainably and to scale. Roaches are better than other insects for one major reason: they contain a protein that builds muscle mass, repairs damaged tissues, and fights infection. So, not only do they replace less sustainable dietary protein sources, they also replace the use of antibiotics in livestock. This effect is well studied in both humans and animals in China, and a very common medicine there, kang fu xin ye, is made from roaches steeped in alcohol, and is prescribed for post op care. I will try to keep you all posted, but have been very busy lately, and it is unlikely that it will let up any time soon.
 
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Interesting!
But why don't you use native cockroaches? There are so many species.
Life always finds a way, and if you use an african one at least a couple will manage to get out.
 
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Cool and eww at the same time. Interesting trial and concept. This is certainly an important as a fodder for livestock,  if I can get past some of the creepiness of it.
I suppose it's like raising Black Soldier Flies  Hermetia_illucens used in aquaponics and aquaculture. Those seem to me to be less scary if they were to be accidentally released.
What is the scientific name of the roach you propose raising?
Thanks I hope I didn't sound negative, maybe it is because with Halloween fast approaching I have that creepy feeling, lol
Brian
  
 
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Fascinating.

I once saw a proof-of-concept installation for raising crickets in the home. It was sized to fit in a small closet or pantry and was, for display purposes, constructed of acrylic and designed so that, even when adding food scraps and removing adult crickets for consumption (the focus of the installation was entomophagy, but I thought it would work nicely for chickens, personally) crickets remained isolated from the outside environment.

The drawers that slid out functioned as little airlocks, such that you couldn't open them to the outside without closing a door inside. When it came to harvest, the adults would be encouraged to congregate in an area adjacent to where eggs had just been laid, an area that was, in itself, a drawer that would seal upon its removal. The idea was that this drawer was removed to a freezer, where the crickets would go dormant and then die, and could either be stored or processed.

I am sure that such an approach would work to ensure that your cockroaches don't escape into your home or the environment.

I wonder, though, were you thinking about live feeding, or would the freezer death chamber work for your cockroaches the same way that it did for the crickets? I mean, less of a chance of escapees if they don't get out alive at all.

Would you grind them into meal at that point, to feed to pigs in a slop? I know chickens that free-range will almost always fight over live bugs, but they would probably eat freeze-dried cockroach readily enough, I think.

Fascinating, as I said before. Please keep us updated, and good luck.

-CK
 
Brian Rodgers
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Good points Chris. I follow Jenny at Solidgold Solidgold Aquatics because I love fish. She also keeps reptiles and she breeds crickets for them which she feed live.
I just grabbed the first Google search item for raising crickets because this really is important for us to learn how to raise feed for out live stock and I really need to do something for the ~100 Brook trout we have swimming ten feet away from my PC desk.
Raising crickets
Brian
 
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I agree with Hans.   Why introduce a foreign species rather than native?   My girls are perfectly happy with our little black ground beetles which produce their FAVORITE grubs in the compost pile, and countless other homesteaders have great success with black soldier flies.   We're paying the price for invasive plant species brought here from Asia, let's not start with bringing African bugs here.   I don't trust that a commercial "controlled environment" can be 100% guaranteed over time.   Kudos on your technology but please use it for propagation of native species.  
 
Chris Kott
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I would be less worried if the potential escapees stood no chance of overwintering on their own , but I don't think a release of these to the environment would be catastrophic. The natives adapted to this environment would easily out-compete the newcomers.

Also, the "technology" you mention isn't complicated; a decent wood shop student with a router could build a rudimentary one. Two simple guillotine closures could seal the cabinet and the drawer, so the drawer could be removed, still sealed, for freezing.

In our highly disrupted natural world, native is an increasingly meaningless distinction. It literally means "born here." I think it better to look at the natural predators and control mechanisms of each choice. I will gladly, if carefully, choose non-native analogues if they are more productive. Such absolutes are hardly useful.

Unintended consequences are always a concern, but I think intentional, careful use of non-natives is the only way to prepare our world for the changing climate. That will reduce diversity and system complexity by itself. In that vein, we have nothing to lose. I would prefer to set up resilient, self-complicating natural and food systems so that they can spread in the event that the natural world doesn't adapt as quickly as possible.

I'd rather that than a barren waste populated only by native cockroaches.

-CK
 
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Mark me down as another person who would be concerned with the introduction of yet another potentially invasive species into our North American ecosystem which is crawling already with pine bark beetles, killer bees, asian carp, zebra muscles, pythons, kudzu, feral pigs, and a 1000 other creatures, large and small, plant and animal, that were introduced to this continent by well-meaning folks who had no clue what they were unleashing.

Perhaps you could raise something like Black Soldier Fly which are native to North America. 





 
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My neighbor raises cockroaches in a rubber maid tub in her basement to feed to her lizards and spiders. She said they're easier than mealworms and she hasn't had a problem with any getting out. She did lose a tarantula in the house once though.............
 
Chris Kott
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While you're not wrong, you also miss my point, Marco.

Non-natives = bad is a simplistic way to deal with the issue in my opinion. It is much more useful, I think, to look at inter-species interactions and their results.

I think that non-natives can greatly increase the level of complexity in any given system if enough care is taken. Native systems have been in chaos since before Columbus and crew brought smallpox and feral swine to Florida. Great care must be taken, but that's not a reason not to do anything.

-CK

 
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African cockroaches are ideal because of their exotic nature.
They are not going survive our winter here in Ohio.
The dubia roach is already common throughout North America, being bred for and by lizard and amphibian enthusiasts.
If they were going to take over ,it would already have happened.
Crickets are said to be stinky and noisy, mealworms are kinda fussy about conditions,and I have found BSF actually stink like nothing else on earth, despite what I had read to the contrary.

I have put some thought into this,and if I had the the gumption, I would use discarded freezers/ refrigerators to house them.
A slotted pipe , leading to a drain to remove excess moisture,would be  covered it in wood chips.
A a second pipe could lead to freedom-a bucket of veg oil/water in the chicken yard, for occasional treats.
A thermostat controlled light bulb would probably suffice for heat, along with the decay of the food scraps,allowing the operation to go on in a hoop house or shed.
I might seeks out discarded milk products to culture lactobacillus on, and add that to the mix.
A garbage disposal could be used to prep food scraps for the roaches, and maybe grind the harvest into paste.
In addition to the roaches, the fras, bedding and decayed food should make an unique and powerful plant food.
Marketing it for weed growers seems like a natural fit.
Drying the bugger whole would make storage easy.
Smoking them could  poke two turds with one bonekill two birds with one stone,making them storable and extra flavorful.
Done correctly it might be a means of sanitizing the roaches, to kill any parasites or disease organisms.
This might mean feeding the roaches chicken poop would be ok, but I wouldn't count on it.
Smoking is a low heat process, after all.
Still, a hotplate smoker is easy to build and is also a way of dispatching them without smooshing them.

From my experience feeding chooks mealworms, they would probably go will over the whole bugs.
Drain that bug fridge to a comfrey bed, to soak up those nutrients.
Turn the chooks loose in the roach beds after harvest, to churn the fras/ bedding mixture.
In the spirit of guild planting, maybe dump crickets, mealworms, BSF, red wrigglers,pill bugs,and dubia roaches into the same container, and observe what happens.
BSF are notorious for overtaking worm bins, but could they deal with dubia roaches or even mealworms?

The thing that excites me the most about blatti-composting is the potential to get the most out of food waste.
My chickens are spoiled and often pick over the food I scavenge.
They seem to prefer the insects that spawn from the rotting food to the food itself, so why not accommodate them?
I can get more scraps than they will eat, so why not turn these scraps into their favorite food, and store it in that form?

So yeah,I think raising roaches for food is a great idea.
Mind you, I don't want to eat them , but I do wish I had the wherewithal to try it at my citystead.




 
Chris Kott
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From what I've read on the subject, red wigglers don't like to cohabitate with BSF larvae, but they consider the enzymes left behind by BSFL to be some kind of exotic spice. They love to follow BSFL in cycle, though.

I think I would have a segregated deep-freezer, where I would add fresh food to each section in turn, and where there would be pass-throughs for the different critters, such that the BSFL would start on one end, and proceed to the other, consuming fresher food scraps as they go. Red wigglers would be added right after them, and would only proceed when the bulk of the BSFL have moved on.

I don't know how cockroaches would figure into that, but I guess they would just go wherever they liked.

Personally, I like the slightly more complicated airlock drawer method for food additions and cockroach harvesting, and the freezer method for executions. After they've frozen for a bit, I would probably just put the drawer of frozen cockroaches in the sun to dessicate. Pathogens have a hard time living without moisture, so any kind of solar dehydrator would do to sterilize them.

As to the effects of cockroach protein on livestock, I would be interested to see if simply setting up a cockroach feeder in a setting where antibiotics are otherwise necessary to stave off crippling mortality rates would have an effect similar to dosing prophylactically with antibiotics. I don't condone factory farming at all, but such a test case would be proof positive, and would translate to a solid case for homestead-scale projects right on up to silo-scale cockroach bioreactors.

Just think about all that creepy, crawly protein. Gee, I hope they don't escape...

(Again, if they did, in Michigan, they can't fly, and they wouldn't go too far before winter caught them and froze their progress to a standstill. And as reptile enthusiasts have already been breeding them for decades, were they likely to do so, it would have already happened).

-CK
 
Susan Pruitt
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I guess I just have a problem with the concept of "nothing bad will happen as long as we take great care".   A couple of old sayings come to mind, "shit happens", and "the devil is in the details"      I know in my calm, little life as a single "mature" lady,  I take great care not to screw things up, have a bad accident, leave the door open because I'm distracted, drop a bag or a box spilling the contents..... and yet ....stupid shit happens (can I use that word here?   I want to use it for dramatic effect).   Just last week I broke my baby toe on the door frame because I didn't realize the door was locked when I tried to push it open  coming back into the house with a bin of sawdust which of course went all over the floor (do not ask me why I bring sawdust into the house, lol).    So all I can say is I love bugs - in the yard,  but I'm glad I don't live next door to anyone who wants to start a cockroach factory because it's hard enough to keep them out of my kitchen now.
 
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I'm on the side of not introducing foreign critters either.  Unless of course it's been approved by the authorities.  While they might freeze out in Ohio, if the experiments succeed and other folks copy it, you could have them in use in Texas.  I'm guessing conditions in Texas and Africa could be similar.

Saying that the native species will easily out compete them is not true all the time.  If it was we wouldn't have the invasives Marco mentioned plus hundreds more.  Maybe these delicious little bugs wouldn't stand a chance in the wilds of Ohio, but until it's tested and proven everywhere in the US, I think it's risky to assume.
 
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Dubia roaches are very, very easy to raise.  I raise them in big rubbermade bins.  They can't climb the plastic sides.  They don't bite or smell bad, and get very large.  Given the proper temperature, they breed very rapidly. I maintain colonies in the tens of thousands with no problems at all.  They eat almost anything.  I'm happy to post pictures if anyone is interested.

The roaches can't live in cold weather, and require a temp of 90 or so to breed, so the chance of them becoming a problem here is as close to zero as anything I've seen.
 
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Susan Pruitt wrote:I guess I just have a problem with the concept of "nothing bad will happen as long as we take great care".   A couple of old sayings come to mind, "shit happens", and "the devil is in the details"      I know in my calm, little life as a single "mature" lady,  I take great care not to screw things up, have a bad accident, leave the door open because I'm distracted, drop a bag or a box spilling the contents..... and yet ....stupid shit happens (can I use that word here?   I want to use it for dramatic effect).   Just last week I broke my baby toe on the door frame because I didn't realize the door was locked when I tried to push it open  coming back into the house with a bin of sawdust which of course went all over the floor (do not ask me why I bring sawdust into the house, lol).    So all I can say is I love bugs - in the yard,  but I'm glad I don't live next door to anyone who wants to start a cockroach factory because it's hard enough to keep them out of my kitchen now.


Yeah, it's like OP has never seen a horror or disaster movie.
 
Trace Oswald
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In fairness to the OP, I have been raising them for quite a few years and, in the midwest at least, "great care" is a pretty big exaggeration.  The care it takes to keep them from escaping is extremely minimal.  They can't live or breed in the climate here if they did escape, and they can't escape even very simple containers.  As Mike Jay said, they may be a problem in areas that are hot and humid.  In Florida for instance, it is illegal to have them.  That said, people in the US have been breeding them for a long time and they are very few places in the US that they could survive.

 
Trace Oswald
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hans muster wrote:Interesting!
But why don't you use native cockroaches? There are so many species.
Life always finds a way, and if you use an african one at least a couple will manage to get out.



This is a much scarier thought to me.  I certainly don't want to breed the roaches that are native here.  I KNOW those cause problems and are nearly, if not completely, impossible to eradicate.  I wouldn't want to see large-scale breeding of a known problem-causing creature like that.  On the other hand, the non-native Dubia roaches have a very, very small chance (I would say zero in the midwest) of becoming a problem, and could absolutely become an important food source for humans, and already are for our animals. 
 
Mike Jay
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Are the African cockroaches the OP mentions the same thing as the Dubai cockroaches?  The impression I got from the OP was that this was a new thing.
 
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I'm all for thinking outside the box. I've also eaten more than my fair share of bugs. Not that roaches as human food is your goal. I do have similar concerns as the others have mentioned though. My initial thoughts were it's not nice to mess with Mother Nature & intentionally introducing africanized bees to the western hemisphere seemed like a good idea at the time. Definitely will be watching this thread because it is a fascinating concept. Way outside of my area of expertise so I'll end with please proceed with extreme caution & seek as much expert advice as possible. Good luck.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:Are the African cockroaches the OP mentions the same thing as the Dubai cockroaches?  The impression I got from the OP was that this was a new thing.



I'm sure they aren't the exact species.  Dubia roaches are from South America.  Madagascar Hissing roaches are from Africa and are closely related to Dubia roaches.  I assume, and that may be a mistake on my part, that they are very similar since the OP said they are tropical, flightless roaches.  My thinking is that since they are both tropical, their temperature requirements would be similar.  As I said, I could be entirely wrong about that. 
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Mike Jay wrote:Are the African cockroaches the OP mentions the same thing as the Dubai cockroaches?  The impression I got from the OP was that this was a new thing.



I'm sure they aren't the exact species.  Dubia roaches are from South America.  Madagascar Hissing roaches are from Africa and are closely related to Dubia roaches.  I assume, and that may be a mistake on my part, that they are very similar since the OP said they are tropical, flightless roaches.  My thinking is that since they are both tropical, their temperature requirements would be similar.  As I said, I could be entirely wrong about that. 



It is a close relative of the hissing roach. Nauphoeta cinerea. It has wings, but they are incapable of flight.

To answer everyone, the reason for using a non native is because if a few escape, they won't survive in my climate. Also, the particular type of roach is good for breeding in quantity.
 
Mike Jay
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It looks like that roach is already illegal to import to Florida Guidelines for importing Exotic and Non-Florida Arthropods.  I like the things you're aiming for (fast breeding of food for livestock and medicine).  Just please check with the Ohio Natural Resources folks to make sure you have all the right permits before you proceed.

I hope it works, I'd love to do black soldier flies if my climate allowed.  As is I'm planning on doing vermicomposting with the hope of feeding the worms to my chickens periodically.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:  As is I'm planning on doing vermicomposting with the hope of feeding the worms to my chickens periodically.



If you are interested in trying it, the Dubia roaches breed very rapidly and chickens love them.  The only things you need to get started are a Rubbermaid tub, some of the paper-type egg containers, a male and a dozen or so female roaches.  For ease of watering, I would recommend water retaining polymer crystals, simply because it's much easier than watering them another way.  I do vermicomposting, as well as raising mealworms, and have raised crickets in the past.  The roaches are far, far easier than any of the others IMO.
 
Chris Kott
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Thanks, Trace. If you could post the pictures you mentioned, I am sure they'd clear up any misconceptions. Plus, I wanna see, I wanna see!

-CK
 
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:......Roaches are better than other insects for one major reason: they contain a protein that builds muscle mass, repairs damaged tissues, and fights infection. So, not only do they replace less sustainable dietary protein sources, they also replace the use of antibiotics in livestock......



Just to be clear, since I have less than zero knowledge of roaches being from northern Canada, do all roaches contain this special protein?  Or just the one species you're getting from Africa?  Thanks in advance.
 
William Bronson
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I can imagine tropical roaches might become a problem in a place like Florida.
I remember encountering flying"palmetto bugs" in Savanna Georgia.
They are considered adventive
But I encountered them 20 years ago.
The thing I don't get is the horror movie scenarios repeated in the face of evidence that breeding tropical roaches in the states has been going on for years, without them taking over.
Especially here, where we often champion  the uses of  "invasive species"  that others pillory.
I think its because they are roaches.

 
Brian Rodgers
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Trace Oswald wrote:Dubia roaches are very, very easy to raise.  I raise them in big rubbermade bins.  They can't climb the plastic sides.  They don't bite or smell bad, and get very large.  Given the proper temperature, they breed very rapidly. I maintain colonies in the tens of thousands with no problems at all.  They eat almost anything.  I'm happy to post pictures if anyone is interested.

The roaches can't live in cold weather, and require a temp of 90 or so to breed, so the chance of them becoming a problem here is as close to zero as anything I've seen.


Okay I think you better had, what with Halloween fast approaching. We need some creepies, yeah!
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Justin Bjornsson wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:......Roaches are better than other insects for one major reason: they contain a protein that builds muscle mass, repairs damaged tissues, and fights infection. So, not only do they replace less sustainable dietary protein sources, they also replace the use of antibiotics in livestock......



Just to be clear, since I have less than zero knowledge of roaches being from northern Canada, do all roaches contain this special protein?  Or just the one species you're getting from Africa?  Thanks in advance.



I asked George that same question, and he seemed to think all roaches had it or they wouldn't be able to survive in polluted conditions. However, all of the research is on Periplaneta americana. So we don't know for certain. The problem with Periplaneta americana is that it is a pest species. It would be an ecological disaster if more than a handful escaped.
 
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The first picture is of a typical bin lid.  If you have flies in the area you keep them in, I would cut out the lid like the one in the picture and caulk or hot glue a piece of window screen over the hole.  I have also kept the lids mostly intact and just drilled a lot of small air holes in them.  I keep the full lids on them in the winter when the air is drier because the humidity helps them shed.

In the picture of the adult male roach, he is the one on the top of the egg carton.  A female is in the picture, as well as a baby near the adult male, and some type of beetle that I see in the bins once in awhile.  Probably another reason to put screen on the lid if you have a hole in it.

The young female roach I'm holding is nearly full grown.

The last picture is just a picture in the bin.  There are several different ages and sizes of roach in there, as well as a meal worm.  If I put too much food in with the meal worms and they don't eat it quickly, I move it to the roach bin before it gets bad.  Once in a while, a meal worm hangs on for a ride to the roach bin.
bin-lid.jpeg
[Thumbnail for bin-lid.jpeg]
Typical bin lid
adult-male.jpeg
[Thumbnail for adult-male.jpeg]
Young adult male roach
Young-adult-female.jpeg
[Thumbnail for Young-adult-female.jpeg]
Young adult female roach
roach-pile.jpeg
[Thumbnail for roach-pile.jpeg]
Pile of roaches
 
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