Silkworms for another source of chicken feed!?

Silkworms for another source of chicken feed!?

Mulberries grow plentiful here and I even know or met someone that grows silkworms too. i intend to feed my chickens will BSF Black soldier flies and maybe a solar night light to attrack various others but I ran into this article of a guy searching for the perfect grub and i commented to them not to give up hope on the BSF as on video 21 and 22 listed on the rightside of my website BSF youtube videos shows a means to house them by the godzillions and this would make it an easy answer. Enjoy their article Silkworms for chickens! I did….

Silkworms for chickens

Repost from avianaquamiser.com

In the wild, invertebrates make up over half of a chicken’s diet, and Mark and I have been looking for just the right cultivated invertebrate to use as homegrown chicken feed.  Black soldier flies would be great…if we had more food scraps.  Earthworms are handy…if I was willing to lose a lot of my castings as the chickens scratch through in search of the worms.  Mealworms are supposed to be tasty…but have to be grown on grains.  We’ve even considered outside-the-box solutions like grasshoppers (although I’m not sure anyone raises them in confinement) and water snails (with crushing the shells being the troubling point there).

Silkworm life cycleAfter years of pondering and reading, I think we’ve finally found a species worth trying — silkworms!  In his excellent book, Paradise Lot, Eric Toensmeier wrote:

“Silkworms are easy to raise….  We keep the silkworms in a cardboard box, feeding them fresh leaves twice a day.  When there get to be too many worms, which are full of fat, protein, and calcium, we feed some to the chickens.  By the time they reach about two inches long, they are mostly made of silk and lose their food value for chickens.”

Toensmeier goes on two write that he lets about twenty of his silkworms reach adulthood and lay eggs, and the cycle continues.  When mulberry leaves are in short supply, he simply puts the eggs in the fridge to delay hatching until more leaves have unfurled.

I’m not sure why I never considered silkworms as chicken feed.  They have a long history of being fed to people and animals (especially pigs, chickens, and fish) in China, and I recently read a vivid description of the place of the silkworm on a nineteenth-century Chinese farm in the fictional Dragons of Silk.  In fact, the worms are thoroughly domesticated — probably even more so than the honeybee — so they’re easy to raise.

Feeding silkwormsVarious modern studies have explored the possibility of feeding silkworm pupae to chickens, with most finding that silkworm pupae can replace between 10% and 20% of a chicken’s diet.  Feedipedia reports that fresh silkworm meal is 55% protein (although about a quarter of that is indigestible chitin), while on the negative side, other sources report that the high percentage of fat can impart a bad taste to eggs and meat if you feed too much.  These large-scale studies focus on the less palatable life stage of the insect merely because it’s a byproduct of the silk industry, but I’d be tempted to follow Toensmeier’s lead and feed silkworms at the caterpillar stage.

Stay tuned for another post on choosing the best kind of silkworm eggs and raising silkworms at home.

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