Chickens love meal worms, they go nuts for meal worms, they cannot get enough of meal worms, if you were to offer your chickens some meal worms they would be forever chasing you around the garden to get some more, especially live meal worms which are far more preferred over the cheap dried imported variety you often see stacked high in the discount stores. Did you know its illegal to feed dried mealworms to your chickens right?...
No you haven't just stepped into some bizarre universe, yes you read it correctly, your backyard chickens are not allowed to eat Dried meal worms, or any other commercially farmed dried insect for that matter. Despite spending the majority of their days foraging in leaf litter looking for fresh live insects that are readily consumed and enjoyed, your chickens are prevented by law In the UK and EU from partaking in the treat of devouring some dried meal worms.
Why? its all to do with animal proteins and food chains legislation introduced in 2014 by DEFRA regarding farmed animals and feeding animal proteins and this includes the proteins of farmed insects. Now the regulations are there for good reason, some of us can remember when all sorts of things were fed to farm animals and we ended up with "mad cow disease" so the regulations are there for good reason. But when we look at what they are saying a bit closer, they are probably due for another look at...
The primary reason insect protein from dried meal worms and other insects are not allowed to be fed to chickens are due to concerns about the insects being reared on food waste, table scraps, catering waste.. that kind of thing and then those harmful elements entering the human food chain by being subsequently fed to chickens.
Now the big assumption that is being made is that the insects are being reared on human food waste, this may be true for the cheap imported ones. But good quality meal worms are always reared in a cereal based dry food mix and given fresh vegetable matter for hydration. Our Live meal worms are bred here in the UK to the highest standards so hopefully one day DEFRA will review the situation and we will be able to tell you what wonderful treats dried meal worms make for pet chickens. After all by switching out from animal based proteins to insect based proteins in livestock feed is going to be a great benefit to the environment.
So despite chickens going crazy for meal worms for now it remains illegal to feed dried insects that have been commercially reared to them. (oh its also illegal to feed them table scraps.. but we don't sell table scraps so we dont have to advise you about them)
Here is the wording from the Gov website - Dried terrestrial invertebrates (insects) and processed animal proteins (PAPs) of insect origin cannot be used in farm animal feed or in treats, eg hen treats. - Link to the regs here
The good news is Live Mealworms and insects are allowed to be fed to your chickens, in fact large scale trials are taking place in regards to feeding calci worms to chickens reared commercially.