Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I thought I'd start a thread where people can share their expertise and things they notice about growing meal worms.  

As you know, the latest iteration of BLF meal worm farming commenced with a garden visit chat by Valerie. Original meal worm video

It appears meal worms are part of the weevil family.  I learned this from Vivienne who used to study and work with meal worms.  It turns out a good substrate to raise them in is rolled oats because they are dry and the worms can eat them.  I ended up with a mix of wood shavings and oats because the worms I bought from the produce store came in shavings.  Vivienne also shared this link: Easy instructions

Mary-ann and Col also started raising them.  So we might get a bit of a knowledge base going between the lot of us.  That's one of the things I love about BLF.  One person starts something, a few others experiment as well and we all benefit.  

Here's a shot of my set up.  The plan is to eventually provide food for quails, chickens and fish.

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Wow you've gone all out!

I found that rolled oats can go mouldy in our climate, which is why I use grain instead. Just keep a close eye on that. 

A month later.  So, the rolled oats are working well as food. The carrot and sweet potato is working well for moisture. 

I now have worms turning into beetles which I pull out and put in a new drawer of oats that I give veg to as well.  I did have a moment of panic when I thought the worms had all died - they were just changing form.  Phew.  Oh, add toilet rolls cut in half for the beetle bin.  It gives them a dark space to meet and mate in. 

I might buy another lot of meal worms to break the cycle up.  That way, I'll have both worms and beetles in full production.  Both my quails and chickens love them!  I reckon the fish will too.  

The final piece of the jigsaw is to work out how to harvest the eggs from the waste under the beetles.  Once I have that, I'm in full production.  This might be a game changer and reduce a lot of the external inputs for my livestock.  Time will tell. 

I have a cunning plan!  I'm going to use a 4 tier system.  Luckily, I bought a 4 drawer set.  LOL. 

Top draw:  Meal worms.  Worm only draw.  The bottom will be fly mesh.  Waste will be collected through the mesh into the draw below.  

Second draw:  Waste from above.  It will be used to improve the compost - or maybe even make a compost tea from it.

Third draw:  Beetles only.  The bottom will be fly mesh.  Eggs and waste will be collected in the draw below.   

Fourth draw:  As the eggs hatch into larvae they will be placed back into draw one.

I reckon it may well work.  

Good Creativity!

Sounds like a good plan. 

So, here is the current state of play with this experiment. 

Three or four weeks after the first meal worms went in, I added a second batch in another draw (the top one).  That batch are still worms and are being fed to the quails about once a week.  They love them.  (Not pushing things too hard just yet.)

The original worms were moved down into draw two.  After a few more weeks they are now pretty much all beetles and have been moved to the third draw with a mesh bottom.  They changed over a few weeks so I was moving beetles out to the draw below to make sure they weren't eating any of the worms that hadn't pupated yet.  I'm guessing soon there won't be more beetles there so what is left can go into the compost.  This will become the new draw one (or four, it doesn't matter).

There is quite a lot of the beetles now in the third draw now.   However, the proof of the pudding will be: 

do I get eggs through the mesh that turn into worms in the bottom (fourth) draw?  If so, this baby is self sustaining and a great source of food for the critters.  I'll judge amounts as things go into full production.

Ongoing maintenance:  I provide cut up carrot to worms and beetles twice a week.  It is their moisture supply.  They eat the oats and the carrots are left as dried black stubs.   I was also a little surprised at how long they live for.  We are into week 6 and none of the beetles are dying as yet that I can see.  

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