Mealworms are an important food source for many animals due to their high nutritional content. For that reason, mealworms are fed to pet reptiles, dogs, and cats that require a nutrition boost in their diet. If you own a flock of chickens, you may be wondering if chickens can eat mealworms.
Can chickens eat mealworms? Yes, chickens can eat mealworms, both live and dried ones. They are packed with protein, fats, and other nutrients that the chickens can benefit from. Best of all, mealworms are one of the chicken’s favorite food.
Health Benefits of Mealworms for Chickens
Mealworms are known for their high content of nutrition, especially proteins. Other nutrients include minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids.
Below are some of the health benefits chickens get from eating mealworms:
Increase Their Protein
Mealworms are a favorite treat for pets, especially reptiles, due to their high content of protein. As for chickens, they too need protein in their diet. Protein is needed to build and repair muscle tissues, strengthen the bones, and lower blood pressure.
For egg-laying chickens, protein is important for the development of the eggs. It will make the eggs bigger and the shell stronger.
When it comes to protein content, dried and live mealworms differ in how much they have. Dried mealworms have around 50% protein, while live mealworms have about 30% protein.
Whether it’s dried or live mealworms, both types are healthy for chickens. However, due to their high content of protein, you’ll want to feed both in moderation.
Use as Medicine
Chickens sometimes don’t get along and fight each other. Other times, they may recover from an infection or predator attack. Either case, they will need extra protein to help repair the damaged muscle tissues.
Due to the high content of protein in mealworms, feeding them some will help them heal quickly from the wound. Just make sure to not give them too much of the mealworms. An acceptable amount is about a teaspoon of them daily.
When the weather starts turning colder, the feathers will start to fall from the chickens. This is known as molting.
Old feathers become dull over time and won’t be able to help insulate the bird. Therefore, chickens will shed the old feathers and grow new feathers for the winter.
During this time is when mealworms make an excellent treat for them. Molting depletes a lot of nutrients, especially protein from the chicken.
By feeding them mealworms, it will help prevent their protein level from depleting completely.
Can Chickens Eat Dried Mealworms?
Chickens can eat dried mealworms, but it’s not that healthy for chickens. Dried mealworms are mostly protein and fat content, which could lead to health problems if they are feed too much of it. Moderation is the key to keeping the chickens healthy with dried mealworms.
When feeding them dried mealworms, always feed them quality mealworms. There are a lot of places that sell low-quality mealworms. These are not healthy for chickens or any other pets. The mealworms could be dead and then dried or have not gone throw the correct process of being dried. This could all lead to issues for the chickens.
Therefore, only buy quality mealworms from a reputable seller. Below is what I buy and you can purchase them directly from Amazon.
During molting, dried mealworms make an excellent supplementary addition to their diet. The extra protein and fat content will help them build up their nutrient reserves.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Mealworms?
Baby chickens can eat mealworms when they are at least two weeks old. Feeding them mealworms at a younger age could cause them to choke on it.
Mealworms are great for chickens due to the high nutritious value that it has. However, for baby chickens, it can be difficult for them due to the hard exoskeleton of the mealworms.
Instead, offering chicks the chick grit is much better. Amazon is an excellent place to buy it. After feeding them chick grit for about 2 weeks, you can then start feeding mealworms.
By feeding them chick grit first, it will give the baby chickens time to build up the grit in their gizzard. This way, once you start feeding them mealworms, they will not have any issue digesting it.
How To Feed Mealworms To Chickens
When it comes to feeding mealworms to chickens, you have a few options. There’s really no wrong way of feeding them.
Below are some of the methods you can try:
The first method is to use mealworms to help turn the coop bedding over. Instead of turning the bedding yourself, you can use the chickens to do it for you.
Simply toss some into their bedding and the chickens will start to rummage through their bedding.
The other method is to simply toss some on the ground and the chickens will start eating it. Before putting the mealworms on the ground, make sure the area is clean first. This means bird dropping, leftover foods, and other debris should be removed first. If not, harmful bacteria and pests may attach themselves to the mealworms, which will eventually end up in the chickens.
The last method is to mix the mealworms with their layer feeds. This way, they will eat the mealworms and their feeds at the same time.
All of the methods above can be done with dried or live mealworms.
How Many Mealworms To Feed Chickens
Mealworms are high in fat content, which makes them unhealthy for chickens to eat a lot of. Therefore, if you’re feeding them dried mealworms, it should be no more than 4 in any one day. If it’s live mealworms, it should be 10 or less each day.
Mealworms are easily digested and they should be fed the worms earlier in the day. Feeding them mealworms at night will cause them to become hungry at night.
As for the frequency of feeding, mealworms should be fed to the chickens three times per week. If you have bantams, it should be once or twice a week.
Overfeeding mealworms to the chickens will cause them a lot of health problems. Some of the causes will be fatty liver disease, kidney-related problems, and being overweight.
Other Worms That Chickens Can Eat
Earthworms have an abundance of nutritions that the chickens can benefit from. On a dry matter basis, it contains 60-70% protein, 5-21% carbohydrates, and 2-3% minerals. If the chickens need a boost in protein, earthworms are a great choice for them.
Hornworms are packed with nutrients that include calcium, protein, and fat content. Unlike most other worms, hornworms are extremely high in water content. They have about 85% moisture content. This makes them a great source of hydration during the summer months when it’s usually hot. Unfortunately, hornworms are available during the summer months only.
Waxworms are another type of worm that makes an excellent treat for chickens. These little caterpillars pack a nutritional punch. They are high in fiber, protein, and fat. Unlike hornworms, wax worms are available throughout the year.
While mealworms are packed with proteins and other nutrition that benefits the chicken’s health, it should be only given to them on occasion. Mealworms are tasty and chickens will eat as many as you give them. Since it’s high in fat content, you’ll only want to feed once or twice per week. As long as you don’t feed them too much of it, mealworms make an excellent treat for your chickens.