Mealworms are a highly beneficial feed to birds and poultry due to their high protein content. In addition, mealworms are a relatively cost-effective as compared to other poultry feeds.
High protein content in mealworms translates to increased yields in meat and egg production hence the popularity.
However, due to a large number of dried mealworm products in the market, it is easy to get confused over what mealworm to pick for your poultry.
Purchasing mealworms can be a very confusing task especially for buyers who either have no experience in buying meals for poultry or buyers who are new to the poultry rearing business.
So here are 3 top features to look out for when buying mealworms in bulk:
1. Expiry Dates and Processing Methods.
Now, mealworms make the birds or chickens go crazy – That is obvious. But they can also make your poultry sick. This is not an alarmist statement. It is facts; studies have shown that processing methods have a direct relationship with the durability of a product especially for processed feedstock.
Here is some background; mealworms are crawling insects. To prepare meal worm, all that needs to be done is the actual harvesting there after they have to be processed which is where the problem comes.
Various bulk producers of mealworms utilize different methods in processing the insects. While the most common method is to dry the insects in an oven, other prefer to boil them then sundry.
Both methods achieve the same results. Boiling the meal worm first ensures that any bacteria of the disease-causing organism that might have been hosted on the worm is killed. However, during boiling, the body mass of the insects absorb an immense amount of water. The effect of this is that the mealworm will be more prone rotting quickly especially if the manufacturer opts for sun drying as opposed to drying the mealworms in an oven. Sun drying is a more effective method as it costs nothing it does not affect the protein content of the worms. On the flip slide, drying the mealworms in an oven affects the protein content of the worms due to the fact that extreme levels of heat break the bonds of protein polymers. Essentially, what means is drying in an oven reduces the protein content of the mealworms.
The most effective method for preparing mealworms would be to harvest them then freeze them. Freezing ensures that they shut down naturally. Further, they should then be dried in an oven and packed.
The optimum moisture levels for bulk mealworms is 3.5% – 5.7%. Anything above that means that the mealworm is prone to rotting quite fast especially once the packaging has been opened and the contents exposed to atmospheric air. The drier the meal the better because that ensures durability.
Some bulk producers of mealworms have resulted in grinding the larvae off and adding Sodium Hydroxide to it in order to make the paste soluble. The final product is then customized to the requirements of various poultry. For example, in some cases, the ground larvae are mixed with chaff from maize cobs and presented as a chicken mash for chicken. In other instances, producers resort to mixing the ground larvae with layers’ mash and feeding it layers to increase egg production.
Whatever the case it might be having chemical compounds in the mealworm is not a bright idea even for a good cause.
Studies have shown that using chemicals (preservatives, additives, boosters etc.) as ingredients for poultry feed is not a good practice as these chemicals have a residual effect on the final product. Continuous use of sodium hydroxide-laced mealworms has been proven to weaken egg shells and even cause loss of feathers in some cases.
Therefore, during purchase buyers should ensure that the bulk mealworms have little to none of the chemical ingredients.
In conclusion, mealworms are a fantastic way to keep your poultry happy and increase your feeds. Buyers should ensure that they monitor the ingredients of the mealworm, the moisture content as well as the expiry date and the processes that were used in preparing the meal.
These are all critical factors and they play a huge role in ensuring that the mealworm is in perfect shape. It also ensures that should the meal be fed to the poultry then the farmer wouldn’t have to worry about optimal yield or how long the meal will last.