We have so much variety of everything nowadays, and making the right or at least a good choice has never been more difficult. This holds true for goods destined for human but also animal consumption. With the variety of different options present for chicken feed and treats, choosing the right ones for your feathery friends is not that easy.
You need to do a good amount of research on the nutritional facts of the different types of feed and treats available and the requirements of your poultry before you can put together an optimal dietary plan for them.
Speaking of insects, mealworms have long been known as a treat for chickens. The less well known are black soldier flies which have only recently gained momentum, for various good reasons. Both mealworms and BSF are a great source of protein but have a slightly different nutritional profile.
In this article, we will do an objective comparison of mealworms and BSF and point out why BSF is a superior treat for your chickens, birds or ducks. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!
Where Did BSFL And Mealworms Originate?
Both BSFL and mealworms are commonly produced in China and Southeast Asia, owing to the area’s vast experience with producing insects and optimum temperature for the process. In places where they are commercially produced in the US, they are relatively more expensive.
You can raise your own BSFL and mealworms, of course, but that requires dedication and ample time - not everyone can fit it into their packed schedules.
Production issues with BSFL and Mealworms
At times, both BSFL and Mealworms may be processed incorrectly using microwaves at overly high temperatures or with uneven temperature applied to the batch of larvae. This may result in a few or many larvae burned. Burning the larvae deprives it of certain nutritional benefits.
Next time you’re in the market to buy some worms, check their color and see if there too-many burned dried insects. Since mealworms are more hollow on the inside, they are more prone to getting burned and would thus end up providing even lower nutritional values.
BSFL Pose No Health Threats
If you wish to raise any one of mealworms or BSF - BSF is the safer option to go for.
Adult Black Soldier Flies do not have mouths (though they can drink water) and are not known to be transmitters of diseases.
Mealworms, on the other hand, can transmit dangerous diseases to your flock (and to you too!) such as the avian flu and E.coli. This is especially true for mealworms that feed on animal protein, as these animals may be diseased and the mealworms can easily pick up viruses and bacteria from the diseased animal.
Although nutritional composition varies considerably depending on the diet of the larvae, an average estimate is as follows:
Mealworms contain 50% protein while BSFL consist of 41% crude protein. Since your chicks are in the growing stage, this protein plays a role in the formation of new tissues, and in the structure and function of their bodies.
Mealworms contain 25% fat, while BSFL contains 28%. For your growing chicks, this fat aids in optimal weight gain. This ensures they are nice and big, which is especially important if your chickens are intended to be broilers.
Mealworms contain less fibre than BSFL (they have 7% versus a good 10% in BSFL by dry weight). Chicks that feed on more fibre consume more food and hence gain more weight.
BSFL contains 2% calcium by dry weight compared to negligible amounts in mealworms (there’s almost 85x more calcium in BSFL than mealworms). Calcium strengthens your chicks bones and contributes to stronger eggshells when they start laying.
Cute, little chicks running and clucking around in your backyard can really warm up your heart. But remember: it is their feed that keeps them going!
It is essential for you to choose a versatile, nutritious diet that boosts their growth and aids their survival.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae and Mealworms are two of the many options that you can incorporate into your chicks’ feed.
However, a thorough research is a good idea before you choose any of them. And if you read up on their nutrition facts, as well as other aspects of their production (as mentioned in this blog), you will learn that BSFL are actually better, cleaner and sometimes even a cheaper option than mealworms for your chicks.