Can chickens eat live insects? Yes, they love eating live insects and will spend the best part of their day foraging in leaf litter and scratching in soil looking for insects to consume if allowed to free range. If you are keeping your chickens in a coop on perhaps on your lawn or another similar area where the chickens do not have the ability to forage you could actually be depriving them of some important natural behaviour's.
You have probably read online that its illegal or not a necessity to feed your chicken with meal worms. This is true of Dried Meal worms, It is against DEFRA regulations to feed dried insect matter to your poultry and this is all to do with the EU animal feed ban (Feeding Dried meal worms to chickens)
But it is perfectly legal to feed live insects to chickens and in fact there are current trials involving large scale calci worm production units in-situ on some poultry farms to quantify the benefits of feeding live insects to poultry. (link for more info)
We are not saying you should stop feeding your hens traditional dry feed stuff but by incorporating live insects into their diet you will be improving their access to different sources of nutrition and providing the mental stimulation they have when foraging naturally.
What live insects to feed chickens? They will eat pretty much anything as any poultry keeper will tell you, they will readily take any of the live insects we have for sale but here are our top recommendations for live insects to feed to chickens..
Meal worms - A great source of protein, meal worms have roughly 17% protein levels a scattering of meal worms in the chicken coop will keep the hens amused for a while as the worms attempt to wriggle away the chickens enjoy scratching and pecking at them.
Mini Meal worms - Just younger smaller versions of meal worms, a great source of protein for rearing on chicks, we have had great success by mixing a small amount (roughly a teaspoon per chick per day) in with chick crumb.
Calci - Worms - These are the larvae of the black soldier fly and have approximately 50 times more calcium in them than meal worms, they are tipped to be the next super food due to their calcium and protein levels, their small size means they will be taken by chicks, we usually start feeding our chicks with calci worms around 3 weeks. When offering to hens place them into a dish in the coop just to ensure none get waste by disappearing into the ground too quickly. Hens need calcium to produce strong shelled eggs and providing a calcium boost in the form of readily available calcium in live insects is the perfect way to add that little bit extra to your chickens diet.
Wax worms - These are the soft bodied larvae of the wax moth, that's a caterpillar to me and you. they have quite a high fat content compared to other insects, but given the size of a chicken compared to a waxworm you would have to feed a huge quantity of wax worms for it become a concern. They make a great "treat" for hens.
Earthworms - Cant find any in your garden/ - we have got you covered.. again a very good source of protein.
If you are new to feeding live insects to your chickens i would advise you order a selection, you can fir four different varieties of insects into one of our letterbox mailing packs, so for an adult chicken go for..
Buy the Pack HERE
Buy the chick pack here
Let us know how your chickens enjoy the treats by posting on our facebook page - Letterbox Livefoods