Feeding live maggots to chickens is a controversial thing in the poultry-keeping community. Maggots are edible and healthy, but some believe they can harm their chickens and are bad for their eggs.
Chickens do and will eat maggots when they find them. In fact, not only is it acceptable for chickens to eat maggots, but it is also nutritious. Maggots are rich in protein and help the chicken grow.
This article focuses on the role of maggots in chicken keeping and if you should use them. Read on to learn everything about the relationship between chicken and maggots.
Table of Contents
Is It Okay for Chickens to Eat Maggots?
As mentioned above, maggots are a great source of protein, and protein is one of the key nutrients in a chicken’s diet. As a matter of fact, chickens require 16 to 20 percent protein in their diet, depending on the stage of their life.
This protein can easily be found in commercial chicken feed. However, in its absence, chickens love to forage for live prey, including maggots.
Some maggots contain over 50 percent proteins. Of course, this is too much protein for your chickens, but you don’t have to feed them on a pure maggot diet. Instead, these protein-rich bugs should be a nutritious treat offered to the chicken in moderation.
Aside from nutrition content, most people have reservations about maggots because they gross them out. Anyone who has ever seen a black soldier fly larva in action does not speak of them in evangelical tones.
They are synonymous with garbage, rotting carcasses, human excretion, etc. Since these materials may have diseases, many assume maggots can make poultry sick or even kill them.
Others are afraid that if chickens eat maggots, it may make them sick or kill them. But how valid are these concerns? Maggots cannot kill chickens if they eat them; it is wrong to believe or even think so.
Can Maggots Make Chickens Sick?
Yes, maggots can make chickens sick, but not for the reasons stated above. While maggots are known for feeding and breeding in the garbage, they are not known for being disease-spreading or carrying pests. As a result, maggots will be safe for chickens to eat in typical circumstances.
Therefore, it all depends on what the maggots have been feeding on. If they’ve been feeding on poisonous material like a rotting carcass of a sick animal, then they might spread the disease to your chicken. To avoid this, you should cultivate your own maggots if you plan on feeding them to your chicken. That way, you can control what they eat.
Can Maggots Kill a Chicken?
Yes, they can! But again, it’s not for the reasons most people fear. Well-bred maggots are completely safe for chickens to eat. Additionally, chickens are used to eating all types of insects and bugs. They go through the chicken’s crop, where they are digested and ground among the gravel there. As a result, maggots cannot eat the chickens from inside.
Of course, if the maggots have been feeding on poisonous material, they will poison your poultry if you serve them as treats, which can lead to death.
In addition, maggots can kill chickens through wound infections. If a chicken gets maggots in its wound, it will probably die if not treated, and the bugs are removed. It is easy for maggots in a dirty chicken coop to crawl or even get into an open wound on your chickens’ bodies.
Can Baby Chicks Eat Maggots?
Yes, they can! Chicks require more proteins to grow than mature chickens. Since maggots are one of the best and easiest protein sources, it is okay for baby chicks to snack on them.
They are also a good size for chicks to eat and act as an introduction to feeding live insects. But just like the older chicken, you should only use maggots to supplement the chicks’ diet and not as the primary feed.
How to Grow Maggots for Chicken Feed
As we’ve established, maggots are a healthy and safe feed for chicken, especially when cultivating them yourself. In addition, compared to other protein feeds, they are actually much easier and more economical to grow.
Furthermore, traditional protein sources like fish meals are becoming increasingly expensive and rare. This is because about a quarter of all fish harvest in the world is turned into animal feed. More than 90 percent of those fisheries are now exhausted or overfished.
As a result, you can help ease the pressure of these traditional protein sources by growing maggots to feed your chicken. The process is pretty easy and won’t take up much of your time.
What to do
1. Build or repurpose a container to house them. The maggots need to be grown in a container they cannot escape from. If you don’t wish to build a container, there are commercial options like Biopod.
2. Install a ramp around the container for the maggots to climb out. Next, drill a hole at the top of the ramp. Instinctively, when the maggots mature, they will want to get out of the pile and proceed to the ramp.
3. You can either put the container in the chicken area and let the maggots get eaten by the chicken as they get out, or you could place a bucket under the hole to collect them.
4. Collect soldier fly maggots from an existing compost pile. If you don’t have one, you can always order them online or leave the container open, hoping that some will lay eggs in it.
5. When your colony is established, the maggots will keep returning as long as there’s food in the container.
6. Fill the container with manure and kitchen scraps without any green material or meat. Keep the material moist, but don’t soak it to avoid drowning the maggots.
According to Post Magazine, a black soldier fly can provide a thousandfold more protein than other terrestrial animals and plants. They are estimated to have a protein content of up to 60 percent.
Now you know, gross, wiggly maggots are a nutritious chicken feed. Therefore, if you find some maggots under a rock in your yard or your compost pile, don’t hesitate to let your chicken enjoy the healthy treat.
If you’re open to trying new poultry farming ideas, growing maggots for chicken feed is something you should consider. They have been proven safe and nutritious, and growing them yourself is a great way to control what they eat.