Wondering what to feed your chickens? The mealworms vs. black soldier fly discussion have been around for some time. So let’s compare the two to make an informed decision.
Chicken loves to eat insects. They are always excited when they see it and come running for the snack every time but do you know which insects you should feed your flock to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients?
Feeding protein-rich, healthy snacks to your chickens are essential for their healthy growth. There are two common types of healthy insect snacks mostly fed to chickens, i.e., mealworms and black soldier fly larvae.
For a long time, mealworms have been a go-to snack for feeding chickens. But now, the black soldier fly larvae are becoming popular with each passing day, giving rise to the mealworms vs. black soldier fly discussion. So let’s find out which out of the two is better and why.
Mealworms vs Black Soldier Fly
The best way to understand the mealworms vs. black soldier fly discussion is by understanding the what, how, and why in detail. You can divide it into three parts - mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, and their comparative study.
Mealworms: What & Why
Part 1 of understanding the black soldier fly larvae vs. mealworms for chicken debate is to understand mealworms in great depth.
Mealworms are the larvae of species of the darkling beetles known as Tenebrio Molitor. These are more likely to be found in the Mediterranean. Originally thought of as garden and crop pests, they are edible for various animals.
Although the completion of the life cycle can vary depending upon the environment, mealworms pass through the four stages within about 19-31 weeks. They are:
- Egg - The first stage of the lifecycle starts with eggs. The female darkling beetles lay somewhat 500 eggs into the ground after fertilization. It usually takes around one to four weeks for an egg to hatch, and then the larva emerges from it.
- Larva - The second stage of the life cycle, i.e., the brown larva, lasts about eight to ten weeks. Here the mealworm crawls and keeps growing as it vigorously eats vegetation or dead insects. The worm sheds its hard outer shell around 10 to 20 times during this stage to develop. Once the larvae transform into fully-grown worms, they are golden brown and approximately over an inch long.
- Pupa - The pupa stage is the third and inactive stage, lasting from a few weeks up to a couple of months depending upon the temperature of its surroundings. This stage usually lasts for a short period of the warm surrounding temperature.
- Adult - It is the last stage where the adult beetles pop out of the pupa, and then the process starts all over again.
Benefits of Mealworm
After understanding the life cycle of mealworms, the next step in comprehending the mealworms vs. black soldier fly discussion is to study their benefits.
Mealworms are rich in protein, containing about 50% protein, 25% fat, and 7% fiber. However, the calcium content is significantly less. So, although mealworms have more protein content, it doesn’t mean that it is a healthier snack option for your flock.
An enormous amount of protein can cause various health issues such as gout or an imbalanced diet. However, with an average of around 1-10 per chicken, a handful of mealworms is enough to boost their protein intake and help your hens lay consistently.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae: What & Why
Part 2 of comprehending the black soldier fly larvae vs. mealworms for birds discussion is having an in-depth understanding of black soldier flies.
The black soldier fly larvae are the piranhas of the insect world. They are capable of eating a wide variety of waste and can quickly eat twice their body weight each day. They are also known as the tiniest powerhouse recyclers and are native to the Western Hemisphere and Australia. The black soldier flies do not tend to spread undesirably and do not bite or sting, making them harmless.
Like any other insect, the black soldier flies undergo a complete metamorphosis stage, starting from eggs to larvae to pupa and the adult phase. Their life cycle can last for about 45 days in the wild. However, if grown for commercial purposes, the hatch-to-harvest period can last as short as 15 days. This short hatch-to-harvest period makes black soldier fly larvae the most economical insect to raise.
Benefits of Black Soldier Fly Larvae
Black soldier fly larvae contain high levels of protein (48%), fat (28%) and moderate levels of fiber (10%) and calcium (3%). This nutritional profile can vary as per what they consume. Black soldier fly grubs contain protein that can aid molting chickens in regaining healthy feathers. During this time, your chickens need more protein as the feathers are about 90% protein.
Moreover, the black soldier fly larvae can be a helpful supplement during weather changes when the protein needs of your flock might increase. The fat content provides essential energy and helps improve the nutrition absorbed from other feed ingredients present during digestion. Coming to the fiber content, it is beneficial for maintaining the healthy digestive system of your flock.
How Do I Decide Which One Is Ideal
You must consider all the dietary elements of the snack before concluding the healthier insect snack of the two. It’s important to note that the nutritional value of both mealworms and black soldier flies depends on their diet and harvesting time.
The calcium content in black soldier fly larvae is fifty times higher than mealworms. Calcium is essential for hens to produce healthier and strong eggshells. Moreover, they contain optimal calcium to phosphorus ratio, vital for a hen’s body. In contrast, mealworms have plenty of phosphorus but lack calcium. Hence, a black soldier fly is the better choice.
Looking for Black Soldier Fly Larvae?
Fly Grubs wants the best for your flock, their chicken feed, and supplements. If you’re searching for good-quality black soldier fly larvae for your chickens, your search ends here. Fly Grubs offers the best quality dried BSFL, a sustainable source of protein, calcium, and healthy fat for your flock. Our all-natural dried BSFl is more nutrient-dense than all the others on the market and contains 85X more calcium than mealworms.
What’s more? Fly Grubs are raised on traceable pre-consumer food waste, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, which otherwise would go to a landfill. Furthermore, they come in a resealable bag made from recycled plastic.
Order your pack of Fly Grubs all-natural BSFL at affordable prices from our website and reach out to us for any queries at email@example.com or our contact page.