Mealworms are a preferred natural food source for many different animals, such as wild bird, reptiles, fish, chickens, squirrels and hedgehogs, among others. They are the larvae form of the flightless darkling beetle (Tenebrio Molitor) and are sold in many pet stores throughout the United States. These worms are very nutritious and are rich in protein, vitamins and edible oils, which makes them a healthful and desirable addition to the animals’ diet. They have a light golden color and can be ordered year round. Dried worms are easier to handle than the live worms, which require certain specific temperature and humidity conditions to survive.
In addition, live worms can escape if not placed in the right type of container. It is also difficult to procure the live worms during the hot summer or cold winter months, because of their sensitivity to temperature. Ordering bulk dried mealworms is a more convenient option, as they can be ordered in large quantities and used over a period of time, unlike live worms which need to be ordered frequently. Since they contain little moisture. The worms can be scattered around the chicken coop to encourage foraging behavior. Chickens love dried mealworms and will come running when they see you approaching with a familiar bag.
Among the birds that like to eat dried mealworms are bluebirds, sparrows, warblers, wrens, woodpeckers, chickadees, robins and thrashers. Chickens, ducks and turkeys enjoy eating them, too. Even small mammals like rats, hamsters and sugar gliders have a taste for them. If thrown into the water, they will float so fish can easily find them.
Most bulk dried mealworms are grown in China and then freeze-dried and shipped to be processed in the US. They can be purchased in bags of 1, 5, 11, 22 and even 44 lbs. They are sold in pet stores, as well as by several suppliers on the internet.
The worms are classified as either medium or large. Medium size worms measure from 1/2″ to 3/4″, and large worms range from 3/4″ to 1″. It is not advisable to buy any worms larger than that, as they may have been treated to make them grow larger artificially by a process that prevents them from pupating. These worms are very popular with chicken keepers who use them as a treat for the purpose of taming their birds. The extra protein these worms provide the hens in the wintertime can make a difference in their laying ability. When feeding dried worms to young chicks, it is advisable to soak them first in order to soften them, since they contain little moisture. The worms can be scattered around the chicken coop to encourage foraging behavior. Chickens love dried mealworms and will come running when they see you approaching with a familiar bag. They will literally eat them out of your hand!
Dried worms are less expensive than live ones and will last up to two years when kept in a cool dry place. It is not recommended to refrigerate them. Their average composition is 53% protein, 28% fat, 6% fiber and 5% moisture. They weigh less than the live ones because of the low percentage of moisture they contain and are even more economical since you get more dried worms per pound, compared to the same weight of live one.
Some people attempt to raise their own worms, but it’s a long process that you can spare yourself by buying the bulk dried ones. As mentioned earlier, raising them requires specific temperature and humidity conditions. You must provide them with food, clean their frass (waste products) and much more. It can take a few months to get a mealworm colony started, and their entire lifecycle is one hundred to several hundred days, depending on the temperature and food provided. Some people have found that they have an allergic reaction and even develop respiratory problems from their contact with the worms. Even if you do decide to raise your own, you will need to purchase some to feed your wild birds, chickens, and other animals until yours are ready. It is much simpler to order them dried and in bulk, so you won’t have to go to the trouble of raising them yourself.
In short, buying bulk dried mealworms is less expensive, less labor intensive and more convenient than buying live worms or owning your own mealworm farm.
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