Mealworms vs Grains for Chicken
Choosing between mealworms and grains as a feed is a crucial decision. We will help you understand the two, helping you make an informed decision.
Visiting a local chicken feed store, looking at a variety of feed might leave you scratching your head. Which is the best for your chickens or how much should you feed them each day, and is it nutritionally sound for your flock?
Mealworms and grains are the two most common chicken feeds available in the market, but how do you pick the best one of the two?
The mealworm vs. grains discussion is a long one but fret not; we will make it easier for you! First, we will compare these two most common chicken feeds on the following grounds: What are they, their benefits, how much to feed, and which is better chicken food - mealworms or grains?
First, let's compare mealworms vs. grains.
Mealworms vs Grains
Mealworms, also known as Tenebrio Molitor, are scavengers or larvae of the darkling beetle. They can be found in feed sacks, grain stores, and sometimes in household items such as flour and cereal.
Mealworms prefer dark, dry places that store grain and extract all the nutrition needed to survive and thrive from the grain they infest.
As for grains, you can feed a wide selection of whole grains to your flock. Corn, wheat, milo, oats, and barley are common grains fed to the chickens. However, it is vital to provide them with a balanced ratio to prevent digestion issues.
Now let's learn more about mealworms vs. grains in-depth and how they benefit chickens?
What are Mealworms and How are They Beneficial for Chickens?
The next step in understanding the mealworms vs. grains discussion is understanding the benefits of mealworms.
As mentioned earlier, mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle. They are garden and crop pests that consume seeds and plant leaves. Although more likely to be found in the Mediterranean regions, they can now be found globally because of trade and globalization.
Not only chickens but other birds and animals can also eat them. Mealworms do not need special meals; they can easily survive on cornmeal, oatmeal, and other grains such as milo and wheat. Furthermore, they can survive on seeds, fungus, and decaying plants in the wild.
Mealworms undergo a complete 4 stage metamorphosis, which usually lasts for around 12 to 18 weeks. The four stages of their lifecycle are egg, larva, pupa, and adult fly.
- Egg - The lifecycle starts with the female beetles laying around 500 eggs. It usually takes approximately four weeks for the eggs to hatch.
- Larvae - The larvae hatch out of the egg in the second stage. They are golden brown and last for eight to ten weeks. In this stage, the mealworms consume food vigorously to store as much food as possible, to be consumed during the later stages.
- Pupa - In the third stage of their lifecycle, the larvae become pupa. Because there is zero activity, the third stage is also called the inactive stage. The pupa can take a few weeks to a few months to hatch, depending on the surrounding temperature.
- Adult - The last stage is when the pupae hatch, the adult beetles come out of it, and the life cycle starts again.
Let's get to their benefits now.
Benefits of Mealworms for Chicken
Mealworms have become an alternative to soy and fishmeal in the poultry industry, which have environmental issues around deforestation and depletion of marine life. But, unfortunately, they also cost way too much.
Mealworms are not just a fun feed for your flock but also a rich source of protein and energy. Your chickens need protein, especially if they are sick, weak, growing, molting, or producing. Mealworms roughly contain 50 percent protein; hence, they are an excellent addition to a chickens' diet and a good source of fat, carbohydrates, and calories. Additionally, they have high levels of leucine, an amino acid essential for regenerating body tissue, and lysine, which helps the absorption of calcium.
Naturally, when you feed your chicken enough protein in their diet, they will produce eggs at their peak. Feeding the recommended servings of mealworms to chickens has shown a significant improvement in the flavor and size of their eggs. But like any other treat, mealworms should only be fed to chickens in moderation. If given in high amounts, mealworms can disturb their balanced feed, leading to potential health problems.
What are Grains and How Are They Beneficial for Chickens?
Many poulterers rely on whole-grain meals for their chickens because of their low costs and wholesome nutrition. As mentioned earlier, chickens can eat various grains, including corn, wheat, milo, oats, barley, etc.
It is vital to feed them proportionately to maintain a balanced diet. Therefore, it is recommended to provide 62 to 72% grains to chicks (0-8 weeks), 68 to 78% to growers (8-18 weeks), 62 to 77% to laying hens, and 56 to 68% to breeding hens.
Grains are high in starch and energy, a good supplement for protein and vitamins. Corn is the most common type of grain used in commercial feed. However, you can replace it with sorghum because of its similar nutritional values.
You can also feed wheat to your flock. However, one limitation of wheat is that it lacks certain essential amino acids, which are vital for growth. It is important to note that oats are fibrous and provide less energy, while millets lack protein.
The benefits of whole grains derive mainly from their high fiber, protein, and antioxidant content and each type of grain has its own benefit. So it would be best if you feed your chickens a diet that is concurrently high in proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
Which is Better Chicken Food - Mealworms or Grains?
Both mealworms and grains have their benefits and nutritional value in favor of the healthy growth of your flock. However, insect feed is more protein, fat, and calcium-rich when compared to grains. In addition, they provide all essential nutrients at once in a balanced proportion. As a result, mealworms overpower grains in the mealworms vs. grains discussion.
Looking for Chicken Feed?
Now that you know the differences and benefits, you can feed insects to your chickens without any hesitation. Fly Grubs offers premium quality, all-natural dried BSFL, which are highly beneficial for growing healthy chickens.
Their chicken feed is sustainable, organic, and grain-free, created to support your chickens' immune system naturally. Moreover, it's FDA approved and comes in a resealable package made from recycled plastic, making it an environment-friendly product.
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