Meal worm farming

We give our girls meal worms as a treat every now and then. We get them from the local pet store at almost $3.00 for 100. The girls love them, they are like crack for chickens. The protein is great for them. But, Goldy alone could down 100 in less then 5 seconds. I can not afford that kind of treat on a regular bases. Alas, what is a chicken mama to do!?!? And that is when I thought, hey, lets try growing our own meal worms.

So I got online (of course, I mean where else do you go to learn something.) I found out what to do, how this whole thing SHOULD work and I was off and running. We picked up 100 meal worms, some oatmeal, and a container and my son and I were ready to join the world of meal worm farmers! My hubby HATES insects but was nice enough to put the holes in the lid of our container for us. I learned you also needed moisture that could come from a carrot, which we had in the fridge. So at this point we have spent about $5 on this project.

So here they are, our new “livestock” right after they were put in the “farm.” My son was so excited to watch them as they all quickly vanished into the oatmeal. My hubby was creeped out the way the oatmeal was wiggling. We sat and watched our worms for a while. Now I don’t know how long they had been in that black container at the pet store but with in a few minutes they all started to go to the carrots! Were they hungry and thirsty? Yup! I had read online the carrot would last about a week and then need to be replaced. WRONG!!! These guys were starving and the carrot was all but gone the next day.

So now we wait. How long? Not sure! I do not know how old our worms were when we got them. But, sooner or later they will start turning into beetles. Once we have beetles the fun begins! Egg production, baby meal worms, food for our hens. I am so excited. I so hope this works. But if not, we are only out $5. We have already learned so much and are enjoying watching our new “livestock.” I would say it was well spent money either way.

I look forward to updating you all if and when we get beetles and babies!!!

35 thoughts on “Meal worm farming

  1. Can't wait to hear more about your adventure. Thought about doing this, but decided the beetle part was too much for me. LOL

  2. I used to raise meal worms as food for a pet toad. It takes a while until you get babies, but once you get to the beetle stage and eggs, it will go fast. You will have to add more meal for them every so often and probably dump the whole container about once a year (saving the worms of course) and starting out with fresh food. You can add more than just oatmeal, too… cornmeal is a good additive.

  3. How will you keep the beetles from spreading to food in your kitchen? Where are you keeping your new "pets?"

    1. First off, they are not pets LOL And we have the in a container with a very tight lid! Once it gets warm enough, they WILL be moving outside to the shed 🙂

  4. Did you add a specific amount of oatmeal? And, how big is your container? Could I use one of those plastic 5-quart ice cream buckets? And did you peel the carrots or were they baby carrots? Sorry for all the questions, but I'm really intrigued by this, and think I probably "need" to have a bucket of worms sitting on my kitchen counter (next to the compost bucket and the "chicken" bucket!). Thanks–really looking forward to seeing how your experiment goes!

    1. Meredith, I used a 10 cup storage container I got at the dollar store. I put about and ince deep of oatmeal on the bottom. We did not peel the carrot. Basically I am winging it! LOL You can use what ever you want, with a lid. Put what feel right (looks like enough for the worms your adding.)I hope that helps a little. We will learn together!

  5. Mindie, I am totally grossed out. 🙂 Although I applaud your courage. I hope no one knocks the container over and your critters go everywhere. Looking forward to following along on this journey.

    1. Carol you crack me up 🙂 The container has a very tight fitting lid so if it does get knocked over, they will NOT go any where!

  6. Keep us posted, please! I may try it; IF you make it through without spills, flying beetles in the house, etc.!

    1. We have a lid on our container and once the weather warms they are so going out to the shed 🙂

  7. I've failed at this more than once, so if you're successful, please make sure to share what you do step-by-step, as I'm the ultimate mealworm killer… 🙂

    1. Awww Caroline! You are not the ultimate mealworm killer. I am sure there was a reason things didn't go right. I hope I am successful but if not I am keeping notes so I will know what went wrong. Here is hoping I figure it out for both of us. 🙂

  8. I've read about people doing this many times successfully but the one common comment is that it takes a long time to get the numbers needed to satisfy the chicklets and they wish they'd started with far more worms…

    1. Roberta, I didn't know how many to start with LOL So I guess this will be trial and error. We only have 2 hens right now and by law can only have up to 4 so I think we might be okay. We will see. I maybe be one of those people who in the end has to say "start with more worms" but I hope not.

    2. Mindie,
      Sounds as if you are doing everything the right way. Me, I tried it this past summer, and I used a big container, with holes punched in the lid. I had it outside on the deck. Unfortunately, whenever it rained, I guess that all the holes were too much and the container got flooded, and I guess my worms drowned. I do want to try it again, and this time will try it indoors – hope you have good luck, I know the chicks love those mealy worms.

  9. Mindie, thanks so much for letting us in on this project. I got alot of enjoyment out of it all. It lightened my mood and I thank you again. Keep us informed, OK?

  10. I'm so excited that I found your blog for a number of reasons. But imagine my delight when i found this post. Only yesterday my hubby and I were looking for a large amount of meal worms for my chooks. We could only find small boxes at the feed store. We were driving home talking about how to farm them ourselves and here you are! Thank you for the great advice. How is it going with them so far?
    I'm going now to buy a box of wigglers, super excited to try this out, and my boys cant believe we are going to "grow" worms they are hyper about the whole venture.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Our meal worms are doing well and I plan on posting an update in the next few days. It realy has ben very simple to get started and has taken minimal attention! My son who is 6 is enjoying the whole process as well. It is a great learning experience for kids.

  11. Love following your progress. I keep mine in the house, in a rumbbermade type of stackable drawer, in the bathroom that hardly anyone goes into. (They will go outside at the chick house storage area, when it get's warmer, then back in for the winter.)……… it says the beetles can live a long time. and they can have up to 250 eggs a day, but I haven't seen that, and have had beetles that are a month old already….. so might want to get a second set going for your experiment!

  12. Just thought i would add my 2 cents….potatoes also work good just slice them thin and put them in your container…I use wheat bran for my meals worms….if u put the worm in a small container( i used a solo cup) and put the cups in a covered box (shoe box) but ventilated no bedding…they will go threw their sages faster…once they are beetles put them plastic boxes ( i use the plastic shoe boxes from the dollar store) and new bedding and they will lay the eggs…it takes a while for the eggs to hatch and become meal worms…so be patient…don't throw out the bedding or there goes your eggs and small meal worms…if your bedding becomes fine just add new…u will see the bedding move if u look closely..then u will know the eggs have hatched…sometimes i take a strainer and strain the bedding…u will see the worms wiggling….it's well worth the wait and much cheaper…just remember u have to be patient.

    1. Thanks for the advice! We have a few beetles and lots of pupa so we are getting there, slow and steady 🙂

    1. So far just a lot of beetles doing what adult beetles do LOL I assume they are laying eggs but I have yet to see any baby worms 🙁

    1. It is a fun project. Very educational for kids and science…. plus our chickens love the worms LOL

  13. Mindie with the 3 drawer method, will the beetles stay in there without a lid? I can't have them all over my house! lol What temperatures do they need to be in? They can go to my storage shed (where I store my chicken supplies, feed and such), but I also don't want them to get out in there either! LOL I don't care for bugs… much like your hubby. =)

    1. LOL The only time ours "get out" is when the youngest country kid (who is 2) opens the drawer and takes some out to play with!! I know you just got toally grossed out, sorry. LOL We just keep ours in the house in the dinning room, so around 70 degrees.

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