On the Farm
Not everything goes according to plan on the farm. Poultry feed is expensive so I am always looking for some alternative ways to get protein for the girls and ladies. Last winter, I tried 2 different ways of doing this...black soldier flies and duckweed and neither one worked! Let's start by looking at the black soldier flies...
Black Soldier Flies
To begin, let me explain that the chickens/ducks don't actually eat the fly. They eat the mature larvae. The flies do not bite and only hang around for a few days to mate, lay eggs and then die. Black soldier flies are super high in protein...usually over 30% depending on what they are eating. Another benefit of black soldier flies is that they can eat coffee grounds, manure and decaying vegetable matter...things you normally need to get rid of anyway! The idea of turning waste products into protein and calcium rich poultry treats is tempting! I bought a special bin to grow the black soldier flies.
Then, I purchased some larvae..they are the small white things. They are about the size of rice...
Inside the bin, I started with putting in some soaked corn, oatmeal and a little compost to get the larvae started...you can see the ramps at the bottom of this pic on either side of the oatmeal...more on that in a bit...
Another idea I had read about is growing duckweed. I read that it is SO easy to grow and doubles in volume every few days. It is also high in protein (30-50%). It can be invasive so I planned to grow it in one of the duck swimming pools.
I ordered it in the winter and kept it out on the garden porch with the fodder system but it did not seem to be thriving at all. I thought maybe it just too cool out there and put a heat pad under the bucket but it just limped along. I kept it going so that I could put it in the small swimming pool in the summer. I thought surely with the warm summer days it would just take off! BUT still nothing! As with the black soldier fly system, I have not had much time to troubleshoot. I did read that it likes high fertility and I did not add anything to the water so maybe that was the issue...it was such a miserable failure that I did not even keep any pics of it!
If anyone has tips about growing black soldier flies or duckweed, please let me know. Most all the articles that I read online talk about how easy it is to grow both of these things but I failed miserably at both! Luckily, we don't NEED the black soldier flies or duckweed but just thought it would be a nice addition to the fodder, sunflower seeds, pumpkin, dried flower/herbs and other treats we offer to the girls and ladies.
Have an eggcellent day!