Complete Guide to Chickens and Mealworms

They might not seem tasty to us, but for chickens, mealworms are a delicious and nutritious appetizer. This tasty treat can help chickens grow better, stave off diseases, improve their recovery time from wounds, and have many other benefits.

Mealworms are a nutritious addition to a chicken’s diet. They are high in protein and will improve their health, benefit their egg production, and help them get through molting faster. Mealworms can also be freeze-dried or dehydrated.

But first things first, are mealworms recommended for chickens? Come with us to learn more about it!

Can Chickens Eat Mealworms?

Chickens can eat mealworms as a protein-rich treat or as part of a balanced diet. Mealworms can make a positive impact on a chicken’s health due to their high protein content, which can improve their health and their egg production.

Usually, adult layer hens need an average of 16 to 20% protein in their diets, which will help them produce more eggs. When they are getting the right amount of protein, they are much healthier. Since mealworms are almost 50% protein, they can be a great dietary addition or treat.

In addition, mealworms will not only improve their egg production, but their feathers will be healthier. When chickens go through the molting season the extra protein will help to make this process quicker.

If you are having problems finding mealworms to feed your chickens, we have the solution!

Can Chickens Eat Dried Mealworms?

Chickens love dried mealworms. This high-protein food is great for chickens as long as it’s given to them in moderation – from a teaspoonful once or twice during the week to a half dozen daily.

Mixing dried mealworms with normal chicken food is an excellent alternative since they will need the protein and other nutrients that they contain.    

Additionally, giving them dried mealworms as a reward during training works well. That way the chickens can be trained to put eggs in the right places.   

One of the best things about dried mealworms is that they can be fed to chickens to help them heal from wounds or infections.

This is because of the huge amount of protein the worms contain, which will help them recover faster. They will also reach peak levels of egg production much quicker.

Can Chickens Eat Freeze-dried Mealworms?

Chickens can eat freeze-dried mealworms, and mealworms are much easier to store when freeze-dried. Freeze-dried mealworms stay fresher for the flock longer, and freeze-drying mealworms can be done at home or bought commercially. Freeze-dried mealworms have a higher protein concentration than live.

Freezing dried mealworms will make them last longer, but bear in mind that the chickens will be much more likely to eat them if they are rehydrated first. This is because they seem more lifelike and appealing to them.   

Freeze-drying mealworms are simple. It can be done in one of two ways.

Option one is a true freeze-dried option.

  1. Place the mealworms on a tray (that cookie sheet still works) and freeze uncovered (to humanely kill the mealworms) while you prep the freeze-dryer.
  2. Once ready, run the tray in the pre-frozen freeze dryer.
  3. When done, test the mealworms for dryness and then prep them for storage – they can last many years this way.

Option two is a freeze-drying hack, and it’s not true freeze-drying. It’s more freezing and then drying.

  1. Place the mealworms on a tray (a cookie sheet works well) and freeze uncovered for a few days to humanely kill the mealworms.
  2. After that, put the mealworms into a food dehydrator to finish. We recommend doing this process outdoors since it might stink up the house.

Until now, it seems that feeding chickens with mealworms are a perfect idea –  but this isn’t always the case. It’s possible to feed chickens too many of them, and this may cause problems.

Can You Feed Your Chickens Too Many Mealworms?

Chickens will overeat mealworms if allowed to, and then they’ll become obese and produce fewer eggs. They may also have other problems with laying. Always limit the quantity of mealworms fed to chickens to no more than 5-10 mealworms per chicken daily.

Chickens love mealworms, and after the first time they try them, they will want more. Don’t give in to them because they can harm egg production and cause health problems. If given mealworms every day, they will gain too much weight.

Obese chickens produce fewer eggs and may have some laying problems, such as soft eggshells and lash eggs. If they are fed a lot of protein they will turn into obese chickens.  

Feeding them with mealworms once or twice a week is a good amount which will help them to improve their egg production and be healthy. They are also great for use as training treats.  

Okay, so now that we know how often we can feed chickens mealworms, how many mealworms should we give them?

How Many Mealworms Should a Chicken Eat?

Chickens should be given between 4 and 10 mealworms apiece as often as daily. Dried mealworms are 50% protein, so limit chickens to 4-5 mealworms each. Live mealworms have 30% protein, so chickens can have up to 10 mealworms.

These quantities are just right to fill the required amount of protein that a chicken needs without making them obese. But, keep in mind that they will always want more, so resist the temptation to give in to them.

An image of dried mealworm larva on a white background.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

So, now we know that mealworms are fantastic for chickens to have a healthy diet. Not only do they help them with egg production, but they improve their quality of life. The high protein content will help improve their feathers and their egg production.

Ready to read more about feeding your chickens a natural diet? Read the full guide here: How to Raise Chickens Without Feed (And Why it’s Better!), where you can learn about other types of dietary options!

Resources

It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.

  • Armitage, Neil. “Mealworms for Chickens.” Cluckin, 11 Apr. 2022, cluckin.net/mealworms-for-chickens.html
  • Coops, Backyard Chicken. “7 Reasons Why You Should Feed Your Chickens Mealworms.” Backyard Chicken Coops, www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/blogs/learning-centre/7-reasons-why-you-should-feed-your-chickens mealworms. Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.
  • Posted by: Jennifer – Dine a Chook Australia. “Dried Mealworms for Chickens.” Dine a Chook, 22 July 2019, www.dineachook.com.au/blog/dried-mealworms-for-chickens/.

By Kimberly Starr

I'm a ginger who loves being outside, homesteading, and spending time with my family. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos.