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More maggots

Looking for an inexpensive, high protein food source for your chickens that is quickly and naturally renewable? Why not start your very own grub farm with a BioPod Plus!

"Eeew," said the kids as I pulled a shovelful of compost out of the bin. "What are those things?"

I had to admit that all I knew was they were grubs, or maggots, or whatever you want to call them, and they were big. They were the biggest, most funktified grubs I had ever seen; at least an inch long. And they were living in my compost bin along with lots of other lifeforms.

I tossed the shovelful of the grub infested compost into our Catawba ConvertiCoops chicken ark and my hens sprang into action. Within seconds of spying their soft insectoid victims, the chooks were picking through the compost, piece by piece, to make sure that no tasty morsel went undetected. Giving the chickens their daily shovelful of compost became a favorite family pastime.

BioPod :: Catawba ConvertiCoops David Bissette interviews Karl Warkomski about the new BioPod Plus.
Click to watch video - this is my interview with the BioPod Plus sales rep
and conservation director Karl Warkomski

I was intrigued by the chicken's gusto for the larvae, since I have been looking for an additional food source for them. Scratch grains and high protein laying mash costs have practically shot up overnight. I began thinking about growing the grubs as an addendum to my chicken food.

One fellow on an internet board I frequent posted about a man in Australia who was feeding his fish organically using nothing but kitchen scraps. Since fish are meat eaters and kitchen scraps are mostly vegetable, I decided to read on.

He has placed a first generation Bio-Pod near his feeding tank and uses naturally occurring black soldier fly grubs as his primary fish food source. He posted a video. I knew then that these were the same grubs that my chickens went ape-gaga over every time.

After a little research into black soldier flies, I knew that I was ready to become a world class grub farmer. Texas Master Gardener Candice Hawkinson writes,

Soldier grubs are scavengers and thrive on many kinds of decomposing organic matter, including algae, carrion, compost heaps, manure, mold, plant refuse, and the waste products of beehives. (Manure! I have plenty of that thanks to my rabbits! And I have bees too.)

They have large and powerful chewing mouth parts allowing them to shred and devour waste. These gluttonous little creatures are able to digest organic compound before the compounds have time to decompose, thereby immediately eliminating odor. The black soldier fly larva's digestive system leaves behind a fraction of the original weight and volume of waste. (Oh holy Hannah... no smell. My compost bins get a little funktified on a hot summer day.)

This non-pest larvae converts the manure's nutrients into 42% protein and 35% fat feedstuff. This conversion of waste into feedstuff is called bioconversion and, consequently, the larvae can be fed right back to the animals or birds that generated the waste or used as feed for fish or livestock. It can be ground up and fed to earthworms or red worms for a second round or just used as compost. The larva is dry, friable, and odorless. (42% protein and 35% fat? That would give me the best tasting eggs around!)

Sold! By throwing shovels full of grubby compost into my chicken ark, I was throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The larvae have to be separated from the compost. That's where the Prota™Culture Bio-Pod Plus comes into play.


New Design! Click to enlarge

By observing the natural instinctive behaviour of the voracious little beasts (a key tenant of permaculture), Dr. Paul Olivier was able to create a composting bin that takes advantage of the larva's desire to move out of their food source to pupate.The grubs migrate up a ramp, directly into an awaiting collection bucket.

Compare these critter's appetites to the finicky eating habits of earthworms. There is a world of difference between the two composting techniques. Wikipedia has this to say about vermicomposting:

Although worms can digest proteins and fats in meat scraps, these materials can attract scavengers. Too much oil or fat can hinder the breathing of the worms, as they breathe through their skin. Worms are said to dislike highly spiced foods and salt. Adding meat and dairy products increases the difficulty of maintaining a healthy, low-odor vermicomposting mix, and is usually not recommended.

Acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus), starchy foods (bread, rice), garlic and onions should only be added in moderation. Large amounts of these materials can change the balance of the system.

On the other hand, black soldier fly maggots eat dang near anything... and right quickly as well. These critters can eat up to five pounds of kitchen scraps every day. That's over a half gallon!

100 lbs (12.5 gallons) of kitchen scraps will give you 5 lbs of compost for your garden, several quarts of yummy compost tea, and 20lbs of chicken food.

That's about a pound of larvae a day from the residential unit

For minimal effort, your chickens get The Big Bucketful O' Free Grubs™, and you get compost from any type of kitchen scrap (including meats and dairy): broken down, processed, pooped out, and ready to spread in 24 to 36 hours from start to finish.


Start growing your own high protein, high fat chicken fodder without acres of corn or wheat. You too can become a world class maggot farmer! Click here to purchase your own BioPod

 
Hermetia illucens can be found in most warm termperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Australia, and parts of South America
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