Mealworms are an ultimate healthy snack for chickens, ducks, geese, and quail. They are jam packed with protein and something that your critters absolutely love. We raise our mealworms to feed to our hatching babies in the house. We raise (Grand Champion) Quail. The babies go CRAZY over the mealworms that we put in their feeders.
A few things I have found in raising mealworms are that:
I know what I am feeding my birds!
I know what I am feeding my kids, why shouldn’t I monitor what I am feeding my birds too? After all, our birds give us meat and eggs that my kids are eating. Mealworms pack so many nutrients and protein. And your birds will thank you for it.
Meals worms are one of the easiest additions to your homestead. I keep mine in a tub(with holes drilled into the top) and an old fishtank in my laundry room. I feed each container a potato on Fridays and blow out their tanks once a month of all of the “skins” that they shed. Yep, that simple! I have a few pieces of cotton balls in each container for them to lay their eggs in and the bottom of my containers either have oatmeal or chicken scratch.
The mealworm life cycle is in four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and darkling beetle. The larvae stage is what I feed to my birds.
Last year, after my foot surgery, we put growing wheat fodder on the back burner along with many other things. (When Mom is down….) It was a bit too hard to keep up with it.
However, with a yard full of KuneKune pasture pigs, we needed to start growing something for them again during the winter time. Fodder is PERFECT! It is 100% greens and soil free that is perfect for animal feed.
Fodder is a GREAT way to feed animals in the winter time, especially when there are no greens growing in your yard. I soak my seeds for 24 hours in water to help jump-start their growing.
To start, we soak 4 cups of recleaned wheat seed in water for 24+ hours. That’s my Day 1 for every tray. If you notice mold forming in day 3+ you can add a capful of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water.
You do not have to stick with just Wheat. You can use barley, oats(although I haven’t had a great outcome in the past with oats), winter peas, black oil sunflower seeds. Whole corn takes too many days to sprout, so I avoid this seed.
In the past, we have used solid trays and drilled holes into the ends for the water to drain. I am trying this new mesh bottom trays this time to see how they work.
Fodder can feed my kunes and also my chickens, ducks, goats and rabbits. It is a win/win feed and the output is up to 6x the feed grown in 9 days as the weight of the seeds.
You need 1 soaking bucket (I used an old plastic bin that was missing its lid and you need 8 trays/buckets/bins. Heck, you can use old rain gutters if you have enough angle that the water doesn’t sit and mold the seeds.
You will also need a shelf or some way to stack these. I have a PVC pipe shelf that Griffen made for me years ago.
My friends over at Garden and Happy posted a GREAT article on the best laying Chicken breeds. Here is the article (and a link to their site: https://gardenandhappy.com/best-egg-laying-chickens/) And as most of my readers know…. I love me some chickens! I mean where else can you get fresh eggs to feed my crew??? I did take the photos mostly out…. They were having issues loading them on my server.
There are few things better than having fresh eggs at hand for creating all kinds of mouthwatering dishes. Thanks to a resurgence in self-sufficiency, people around the world are enjoying fresh eggs from their own chickens instead of running to the grocery store to get them. Take note, however, that some chickens are better than other varieties when it comes to getting quality eggs. Read this guide to find the best egg-laying chickens for your needs, before you get your coop started.
1. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red chicken is a hardy and adaptable variety, ideal for first-time farmers. Developed in—you guessed it—Rhode Island in the mid 1800s, these chooks became so popular that they ended up as RI’s state bird!
This breed adapts well to both hot and cold climates, and isn’t sensitive to rain or snow. In fact, they maintain their happy-go-lucky demeanor regardless of weather, and are friendly, pleasant hens to have around.
Rhode Island Reds have a deep red to almost brown colour, and males have a ruby red plume and facial skin layer. This chicken breed prefers to socialize with others of their own breed, so they’re not great for mixed flocks.
These hens adapt well to either being free ranged or cooped, though they enjoy roaming time outdoors. In terms of laying capability, you’ll get an annual egg count of around 260, medium-sized brown eggs per bird.
2. White Leghorns
The White Leghorn chicken variety is one of the most prolific egg layers out there. They have an early maturity rate at about 16 weeks old, so they can start laying eggs while still quite young. This makes them a very popular breed for egg lovers.
Their annual laying count falls in the 280-300 range! This is in the highest egg-laying bracket, so if you really like omelettes, put this breed at the top of your list.
This chicken variety lays large, white eggs, which can often have double yolks. They’re beautiful birds, with tall, slender statures and white plumage, upright tail feathers, and long legs. In terms of temperament, they’re known to be skittish and will often take flight if provoked. As such, they’re better suited to more experienced farmers who have the proper equipment to suit their needs.
3. Golden Comet
Golden Comet chickens are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. Amazingly, they’ve inherited the best traits from both breeds. Plump and stout, these chickens have dark, golden feathers, and occasional white lacing on their necks and tails.
These gorgeous birds have more than just their looks going for them. Golden Comets are well known—and preferred—for their easygoing, calm demeanor. This breed’s nature makes them one of the best egg-laying chickens for small areas. They’re also ideal as household pets… though you might want to invest in some chicken diapers if you let them live indoors.
Golden Comets are naturally and mothering, and are as nurturing with their own chicks as they are with human children. They’re affectionate and gentle, and if you choose to breed yours, you can rest assured they’ll mother their offspring well. This breed is also friendly with different chicken breeds, so they’re ideal for mixed flocks.
Comets have an annual egg count of between 275 and 330 large, brown eggs. As such, they’re preferred by those who sell their eggs at farmers’ markets.
4. Barred Plymouth Rock
Barred Plymouth Rock chickens are on the larger side, and this helps them to be highly resistant to cold temperatures. They have a round, robust body size and are covered with white and black speckled features on top of a fluffy gray undercoat. These layers make them perfect for cold climates like the northern USA and Canada, since they can endure snowy weather well.
This breed has a high annual egg-laying rate, at approximately 280 large, peach-colored eggs at a constant, predictable rate. They’re also known to be quite calm and content in nature. Due to this pleasant demeanor, they get along well with other animals, whether livestock or household pets.
5. Golden Laced Wyandottes
Golden-Laced Wyandotte chickens are known for their curious temperament. They love to forage, which makes them a perfect breed if you’re looking for chickens that will be able to fend for themselves. Their predictable, highly energetic nature makes Wyandottes a great breed choice if you want to raise free-range birds.
By having a chicken breed that forages well, you’ll be able to lower your chicken feed expenses exponentially. Your hens can hunt for their own food outside, and are great for clearing “pest” insects like slugs and caterpillars from your vegetable garden.
Golden Laced Wyandottes have beautiful, black-tipped, dark brown feathers. Expect around 200 small, white eggs from your hens every year.
6. Buff Orpington
These golden girls are sure to be a hoot in your flock. They’re a top breed to consider if you’re planning to raise chickens in pens. Their fluffy feather layers makes them cold hardy, but they don’t handle heat well.
Buff Orpington chickens are medium-sized birds with gold-yellow feathers. They can be expected to lay around 200 small, light brown eggs every year. They’re very tame in nature when alone, and social in groups.
Their friendly attitude makes them an ideal chicken breed for suburban farmers and garden growers who have limited space, or those who choose to raise their birds in coops. These big, friendly birds are also incredibly smart. Some farmers have even trained their Buff Orpingtons to obey commands!
These hens are also called “Easter Eggers”, or “Easter Egg chickens”. They produce a large amount of eggs annually, with shell hues in all shades of pink, blue, and green. They were bred in the United States in the 1970s, derived from Chilean Araucana hens.
Ameraucanas are known for their gorgeous appearance. These beauties are medium brown with white, yellow, and deep brown speckles, and golden beaks. Their appearance ensures that you that you’ll never tire of watching these supermodels outside your window. They have an odd body shape with a stout beak, slanted lower tail feathers, long neck, and stout head.
Their yearly egg rate is about 260, and the hens are known to quite broody. This means that they’re overly protective of their fertile eggs, especially around fellow hens. Other than their motherly attitude, they are generally well behaved.
Andalusians are known for their small stature, and are the opposite of Barred Plymouths in every way. They have a high heat tolerance, and stunning blue-black feathers. They lay approximately 170 large, white eggs annually, which is on the lower end of the laying scale. That said, they have the highest laying rate among heat-tolerant varieties.
Indigenous to southwestern Spain, Andalusian chickens thrive best in hot climates. This makes them ideal for egg lovers in the southern USA, and warmer European regions. They’re known to jump, run, and take flight, but are typically non-aggressive in nature.
This is a rare variety that may be a bit more difficult to find. It is, however, gaining in popularity thanks to chicken hobbyists.
Are You Ready to Raise Backyard Chickens?
Thanks to recent bylaw changes, many people in suburban areas have permission to raise chickens in their backyards. These permissions are limited so specific areas, and have to adhere to certain requirements. If you’ve been toying with the idea of raising your own hens, find out whether you’re permitted to do so.
The most important thing to mention in this article, however, is to be make sure that you are 100% ready to raise hens before even looking at buying or building a chicken coop.
First, make sure that you have adequate space on your property. Chickens need enough room to spread their wings and get their recommended amount of exercise. You need to meet your area’s laws and safety standards for a chicken coop and pen. These ensure that your chickens will be safe from predators and inclement weather.
Be careful if you live in an area where wildlife runs rampant. It might not be the best thing to add chickens to the mix, as you may put their lives at risk. In addition, chickens require food and water that might not be readily available at a local store.
A Final Note:
The most important thing to remember is that chickens are living beings that need proper care. They need love, attention, and affection just like any other animal, and can’t just be tossed in a pen and neglected. You have to ensure that you have the time and energy to interact with them and check them regularly for any health issues.
Chickens are a lot of fun to raise, but they’re also a big responsibility. If you’re dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort, then go right ahead. Set up a coop, get yourself a couple of hens, and experience the joy of farm-fresh eggs every day
I know that spring is when most people purchase chicks from the local feed stores. To me, this is the wrong time of year. We have been raising our own chickens for years.
Chickens begin laying eggs at between 20 and 24 weeks. That’s 5 to 6 months… If you purchase week old babies in March, they will not lay until the fall.
Most chickens slow down their laying in the winter too because they need 12-14+ hours of light for optimal laying. So your new layers from your spring chicks will stop laying in their first winter and then you are feeding chicken that you have only gotten a few eggs from all winter long.
If you have a suitable warmer area in your home, fall is a GREAT time to pick up chicks. We have baby playpens in our garage with heater lights for our chicks. We use these YEAR ROUND!!!
We have chicks available year round. Many are Americauna or Americauna mix (blue / green egg layers). Other breeds that we have on our homestead are Dominiques, California Grey, Cochins, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Reds and many others.
For a due date of October 1, we have over 100 eggs in the incubator! Do you want to add to your flock this season for spring laying? (They can potentially lay in March!)
Pre-order today!! $3 each or 10 or more are $2.25 each. They will be ready to go to your home during the first week of October.
AVAILABLE (updated 9/12/2015) on our homestead in addition to the pre-order of chicks:
8 1 to 5 day old Chicks,
8 1 to 5 day old Quail Chicks,
We still have 5 male and 1 female 18 week old New Zealand Rabbits as well $10 each
We also have quail hatching year round. Conturnix quail are GREAT for both egg and meat production as they are full grown at 8 weeks of age and begin laying then as well.. $3 each or 10 or more are $2.25 each. (for under 2 weeks of age) $5 each for older than 2 weeks of age.
Ok, so I am sure that you are finally bored with my posts on fodder…. I am just thrilled at being able to share my success (and my failure as well) with you… and I know that there are some out there who want to have chickens AND save money on feed. This is the way to do it! Once you master the process.
However, This morning, I woke up to my fodder being moldy… Not certain what happened, But we are dumping and starting again! LOL AHHH They life of experiments and trial and error. I think that I need to drill more holes in the bottom of the trays and use less seed. We were using 3 cups of seed in the plastic shoe boxes. I think that we are shifting to 2 cups… I also had buckets under each of my trays rather than letting them drip down to the next one down because I didn’t have the correct shelf.
I also went down and picked up some buckets at the local hardware store. And I drilled 10 holes in the bottom of them as well. I am not certain if everything wasn’t draining well enough or if it was too thick in the trays… so with trial and error, we are starting up again. I do also plan on soaking the see for 24 hours rather than 12 hours. Here in AZ, there is so much less humidity in the air that I worry that I was over watering and
Here is day 7 (that is one day of soaking and 6 days in the trays)
**** Note: We are going to continue to grow this batch for 3 more days and then see if the mold is worse or not.
Oh My! Day 5 is here… we are half way through the growing on the first tray of barley fodder. I have determined that if this continues to work that we need to build another greenhouse… Oh LARRY?!?! Want another project? I am thinking a lean-to on the front of the house. 🙂
So far, so good, no mold or mildew. That was one of my biggest worries. We are going to move the trays to the garage in the evening for now until the fruit flies expire for the season. Those little buggars are driving me crazy! I think that I need a metal cart like I have for the kids homeschooling supplies. I picked that up at Sam’s club for about $60.
Anyhow, the root system is really taking off on this first tray and the other trays are following just like the first one did. And now, on day 5 there are little plant sprouts too!
So the sprouts have really begun this morning and the roots are forming! We have 3 bins going now, plus tonight will soak seeds before bead for the next day to make the 4th one.
There is a “sweet” smell from the seeds and about 3 dozen fruit flies on them this morning. I have to find a way to nip that before it gets bad. We are still having beautiful weather, so, these seeds will be going outside later today once the morning cool warms up – I have added a paper towel on top of them while outside and did not put them in direct sunlight, but rather under my porch out front (we have high sun with no clouds…. PERFECT for solar oven cooking!!). We are keeping them extra moist by watering mid-day today too… just because they are outside.
This has turned into a bit of a science experiment for the kids and I … good thing that we homeschool!
We woke up this morning to a bit of a change on our barley. They have begun to sprout over night and we can start to see little white root coming out of some of them.
We did have some fruit flies on the trays this morning. Made a home-made fruit fly trap (jar with a funnel and a 1/2 of a tomato inside of it.) And we will be putting the seeds outside for a while today.
Our process today is simple. Dump the soaking barley into it’s new tray and shift all of the trays over one. We watered day 2 and day 3 with a cup of water each and with the drain water, I watered my herbs outside.