What Does A 2 Week Old Baby Rabbit Look Like Raising Mealworms: A Beginner’s Journey

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Raising Mealworms: A Beginner’s Journey

If you’re completely new to the idea of ​​farming and eating bugs, the general consensus is that mealworms are the way to go. They have a high protein and relatively low fat content, reproduce very quickly and in large numbers. Female adults often produce hundreds of eggs at a time and the same adults can then be used to reseed new stocks of eggs every two weeks for the next 1-2 months, until their reproductive output becomes too low. Another advantage of using mealworms as your insect of choice is that they can be stored in the refrigerator for months if needed, as long as they are taken out to eat once a week.

Life cycle

Before I go any further, it is important that you understand the mealworm life cycle. Mealworms aren’t actually worms at all – they’re from the Coleoptera order, making them a beetle. Mealworms themselves are actually the larval form of the dark beetle. Beetle species make up 40% of all insects on the planet and mealworms are the most commonly farmed by humans, mostly for animal feed.

After breeding, female adult beetles will lay their tiny eggs in the soil. These come with a sticky outer coating to collect soil particles so they can be hidden from predators. After they hatch into their larval mealworms, the baby mealworms start eating and growing – this is pretty much all they are designed to do. Mealworms, unlike the larval forms of some insects such as butterfly caterpillars, have hard exoskeletons, which means they must periodically shed them to continue growing. Mealworms will go on successive molts to grow from the size of a grain of sand to over an inch long.

Once they reach larval maturity, they will begin to pupate and enter their third pupal form, in which their encapsulated bodies turn into moss so they can reassimilate into their adult structural form. The time required to undergo this metamorphosis varies according to environmental conditions – high humidity and moderate temperature are ideal. The adult will eventually emerge small, soft and white from the pupa and over the course of a week or so, will eat and grow as its exoskeleton hardens and turns black. A week or two later, the adult will reach sexual maturity and begin to reproduce, thus completing the life cycle.

Small-scale mealworm farming

Having done a considerable amount of research into the practicalities of starting a small mealworm farm at home in the UK, I kept coming across the popular idea that ‘separation is key’, keeping adults, larvae and eggs away from. each other Productivity is the reason behind this because both the larvae and the adults will eat the eggs and the adults will also go for young larvae, ultimately reducing the overall yield.

The arrangement

So now, the process. I have used some sample templates to formulate the most effective means of managing a mealworm farm. To begin with, you will need something to store your mealworms. I recommend a plastic six-drawer file. Each drawer will be used to house mealworms at different stages of development. Some people cover these boxes with tape to keep the inside dark because the beetles especially prefer that. Others also drill a few holes in the plastic for ventilation, but many feel that opening the boxes regularly to change the food sources provides adequate aeration. The drawers I use are quite deep and not completely sealed, so their occupants don’t run out of air without these holes.

You will then need a good amount of chicken feed pellets for their bedding and the bulk of their diet – some people use oats and others use wheat bran, but it seems that ground chicken feed pellets have less risk of mold development, especially. an important thing to watch out for when using potato slices as your moisture and food source. You can go old school with your pellets and grind them with a mortar and pestle or you can get one of those mini blenders to speed up the process.

The farming begins

Once you have everything set up, contact your local pet shop and get your first set of mealworms. A few hundred or so will do to start (if you follow this small-scale method). Just before they arrive, grind enough chicken pellets to evenly coat the bottom of your lowest tray to just over an inch thick. Add your mealworms and some moisture sources (I use apple slices and a whole carrot) and you’ll start the waiting game. At this point it is up to you whether you save the pupae as they develop, as some mealworms are known to sexualize pupae. Either way, eventually you’ll have yourself a nice collection of reddish-brown beetles. Let these ripen for a week or so until they turn black.

Now it’s time for your first delivery of beetles. Grind your pellets, fill the next tray in the sequence as you did before and place on a table next to the beetle tray. A pro tip for relocating your beetles is to add a fresh apple slice and wait for them to flock to it, allowing you to simply pick up the slice and shake them off into the new tray. You can also filter the entire tray contents over a trash can, through a sieve or a plastic colander. The beetles should be all that’s left in the strainer, so just put them with the rest in the new tray and put the tray back in the cabinet.

More waiting… but you can wash the old tray in the meantime, and don’t forget that the beetles need to be replenished with food more often, because you will notice that they go through it much faster than the mealworms (which also eat the blanket. ). The rule of thumb is every day or two for the beetles and a little less often for the mealworms, but just watch out for mold along the way.

After a few weeks, it’s safe to say your beetles will breed and lay their eggs, but keep an eye out for the ever-so-tiny newly emerging mealworms, if the process is faster than expected – the beetles will eat them as soon as they see them. When the time is right, repeat the apple-slicing transfer method to move the beetles up one level. You could always strain them again, which is faster, but you’ll need to make sure your strainer has holes big enough for any of your little grubs to slip through. Some believe that doing this is not good for the larvae at this size, nor for the eggs. If you use the strainer, make sure the litter goes back into the same tray (and not the litter box) because, of course, there are precious eggs inside. Top it with more freshly ground pellets if needed.

All you have to do now is repeat the same steps, moving the beetles up a level every two weeks until they reach the top. When they do, start again from the second lowest tray. Just keep the bottom tray out of the cycle where you can put any salvaged dolls. When these become mature beetles, simply add them to the beetle tray so they can breed. Whenever your mealworm brood in a given tray reaches a decent size, go for the filter method and discard the old bedding. Your mealworms can then either be stored in the freezer or fed to your chickens, whatever your desired outcome may be. Just remember to wash them before cooking if you’re going to eat them!

Happy farming!

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