Can Chickens Eat Maggots?
Chickens move around the yard searching for wriggly things that are part of their natural diet. Maggots are no exception and if you watch your chickens, they love eating these seemingly icky insects. But there are some chickens that never try eating maggots. They only eat soy and grain-rich diets that come in the form of pellets. But maggots and other insects contain a lot of protein and other essential micronutrients. Raising maggots and feeding them to your chickens will have a good effect on their health.
What happens when you eat maggots?
Although it might sound gross, some people eat maggots willingly. These people fry the insects and they’re very common in countries where consuming bugs is normal. For instance, you can find maggots in a particular Sardinian delicacy. In Italy, they make maggot cheese or rotten cheese, which is specially prepared to turn them into maggot breeding grounds.
This is a fermented delicacy that’s called Pecorino cheese. They believe that this type of cheese is completely safe to eat as long as the maggots remain alive. But for others, they can accidentally eat maggots found in foods, particularly contaminated foods. Either way, there are risks involved when we eat these insects.
What happens when chickens eat maggots?
Maggots can be an excellent protein source. Protein is one of the most important nutritional elements in the diet of chickens. Typically, hens should consume between 16% to 20% protein in their diets, but this depends on the stage of life they’re in. This requirement is easily obtained with a high-quality commercial feed. Apart from this, your chickens will require protein, which is why they forage outside.
But you won’t raise chickens on these insects alone. The insects will provide a tasty treat but only in moderation. But when it comes to treats, maggots are the best choice you can feed your chickens. But many people feel grossed out by these crawlers. Because of this, they wrongly assume that the bugs cause harm. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Maggots hatch, then feed on things that may contain disease like carcasses, rotting food, feces, and so on. Despite these, they aren’t known for being disease-spreading or disease-carrying insects. This means that the risks of eating maggots mainly lie in where and what the maggots feed on. For instance, it’s not advisable to feed your chickens maggots that you found from rotting carcasses.
Feeding chickens maggots
If you want to have an economical and easy way to give your chickens the proteins they need, feed them maggots. Most people immediately picture these insects as the ones they find in smelly garbage feasting on rotten food. But this isn’t always the case. While you can use housefly maggots for this purpose, the issue with fly infestation, disease transmission, and a very unpleasant smell, could be too much for you. Instead, you can use soldier fly maggots because you can raise them in compost piles.
Not adding meat to your pile will reduce the risk of disease. Also, soldier fly maggots are auto-harvesting and the adult flies don’t hover around humans. They even secrete a specific pheromone that can repel common house flies.
To grow maggots, you will need to either re-purpose or build a container from which the maggots can’t escape. Never use a compost pile with a bottom that’s open. You also have the option to purchase a container instead. Then you need to build a ramp around the interior of the container for the maggots to climb on. At the top, you can drill a hole for you to harvest the maggots. The maggots that are ready to move into adulthood have an instinct to come out of the compost pile and they will do this by climbing the ramp.
You can either place the container in a location where your chickens can access the maggots and let them find the insects as they come out of the container or you can place a pail underneath the hole to collect the maggots. There are many ways for you to raise your own soldier fly maggots. First, you can collect them from an existing compost pile. If you don’t have an existing compost pile, you can go online and order maggots.
Finally, you can also start a compost pile, then leave the container open. Then you can wait for soldiers to fly maggots to lay their eggs inside it. After establishing a colony, the adult fly maggots will always come back as long as you provide food in your container. You need to fill or replenish the container with kitchen scraps (without meat), green material, or manure. Make sure to keep the contents moist enough, but not soaked as you might drown all of the maggots.
When are maggots harmful to chickens?
Most poultry specialists and farmers agree that maggots don’t pose any immediate danger to chickens. Chickens won’t die when they eat maggots because they can compact and grind foods inside their bodies. Since maggots are very soft, they get crushed into digestible pieces before passing through the chicken’s digestive system. Chickens love maggots and they consider these special treats. But some of these crawlers could escape your container, then cause issues in your coop. Make sure that no infestation will occur. To do this, keep checking the coop and remove any maggots that you find.
There are sprays that will do a great job of eliminating maggots. There are also home remedies that prove quite effective too. For one, you can spray the insects with white vinegar or soapy water. Both of these will work. Another simple solution is to mix a cup of water with chopped-up cucumber, then spray the mixture around the coop. The cucumber’s alkalinity will repel the maggots and hinder their growth.
You might hate maggots but chickens don’t feel the same way. They love eating maggots. You can use maggots as a protein supplement for your chickens because they contain a good amount of this essential nutrient. If you can’t feed plant proteins to your chickens, then maggots are an excellent alternative. These insects are such a great protein source that some poultry farmers have begun raising their own maggots for their chickens to feed on.