I have a friend that raised soy free turkeys for thanksgiving. She chose a heritage breed. She placed them in a poultry tractor and moved them around her pasture so that they could be grass fed. When they were old enough, she let them roam the farm on their own. She fed them organic feed which contained no corn or soy. Corn and soy are mostly GMO now, so she did not want to include that in her holiday meal. The problem with going soy free though is lack of protein. Turkeys grow pretty fast and need lots of that. So she started growing meal bugs. She feeds the meal worms every day to the turkeys as treats throughout the day. These turkeys, who are not normally the friendliest of fowl follow her like puppies, because she is the giver of the larvae that are like candy to them.
I was fascinated by this, so I did some research on my own. There are many people who raise these worms for their chickens. So my friend gave me about 20 worms in some chicken food to start out. I put them in a plastic shoe box and added a carrot for moisture and waited… and waited. Nothing seemed to happen. For weeks I checked those little buggars 3 times a day as if willing them to pupate. I replaced the carrot daily.
Then one day, I realized that I had forgot to change out the carrot for about a week. (Bad meal worm mommy!) I lifted the lid to change out the carrot and was greeted by worms, pupae and beetles. It was kinda creepy for a minute, but then I realized that I was finally successful. These little beetles would lay about 200 eggs each that would turn into more worms. So I let this little box alone in the dark cabinet only checking it to add more chicken food and change out the carrot. After that, every Saturday I would bring a cupful of the mess, out to the girls. I tried to pick out the pupae and the beatles. They were my breeders after all. But the shoe box finally had plenty in case I missed a few.
I used a sunshine yellow bowl. I sat and I made the chickens come to me for their treat. They loved the worms! This would turn the shyest chicken into a lap pet! I have always been the giver of all things good for them. Steve was the giver of the Ritz crackers. He did have a special place in their hearts and still does in mine.