Black Soldier Fly Larvae. Sounds like something pretty powerful, doesn’t it? Bugs with a mission. And really, that’s how we see these little protein-packed buggers. It’s one of the many reasons we brought them on as part of our Cluckin’ Good Supplements and Treats line.
But let’s go back a little bit. When we first started researching ways to supplement the diets of chickens and ducks, we considered mealworms. Birds love mealworms, and they are a good source of protein. At first glance, it made sense to consider those insects as something we wanted to offer to customers. What we learned, though, is that the common means of obtaining mealworms didn’t fit with part of our mission at Scratch and Peck Feeds – to offer sustainably produced and sourced ingredients. Most mealworms come from China, which means not only are we not supporting our regional economies, we’re also sourcing a product that requires overseas transport … and a lot of fuel along the way. Our quest for a sustainable protein product continued.
Further investigating took us to Enterra, a sustainable insect farm in the Pacific Northwest, just north from where we are located in Burlington, WA. The fact that they are less than 100 miles from our mill drew our attention – our goal to source ingredients as close to home as possible means we’re saving on fuel use getting the product to us and out to customers. A huge perk! Even more cheer-worthy was that they sustainably produce dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae, a source of protein and oil that is ideal for the animal feed industry. To raise Black Soldier Flies, Enterra uses pre-consumer waste food that would otherwise be sent to landfills. These flies consume spoiled or unused fruits, vegetables and grains sourced from regional farms, bakeries, greenhouses and other businesses in the region. The larvae are then harvested and the result is a protein-rich ingredient that chickens and ducks love (while sneaking in a dose of healthy calcium and fatty amino acids that gives a nutritional boost to their eggs!) Essentially, Enterra takes nutrient-rich food that would otherwise be removed from the food chain and puts it back into the system so farmers of all sizes can produce more food. As they put it, they’re closing the loop on food waste.
The more we learned about Black Soldier Flies and the benefits they have for poultry, the more confident we became at incorporating them into our poultry product line. These dried larvae are upwards of 40% crude protein. Because chicken feathers are about 90% protein, increasing your chickens’ protein during molting will aid in feather growth. Chickens deficient in protein may also pick at their own feathers in an attempt to get the protein they need, so it’s important to keep their protein at optimal levels. During winter, when snow is covering the ground and insects are harder for your chickens and ducks to forage, consider using Cluckin’ Good Grubs as an extra protein source. During laying time, grubs provide an extra boost of calcium, which helps build strong eggshells. They’re also great to use as a treat for your birds or to entice them into the coop at night.
We recommend scattering a small handful of grubs on the ground near the feed or tossing a few of the little buggers into the coop when it’s time for the gals to come in for bedtime. Some people also freeze a couple grubs into ice cubes to serve the dual purpose of hydrating their chickens and ducks while also giving them a tasty surprise.
We know you care about your animals and what they are eating. We do too! It’s why we are committed to sharing transparent information about how and where we source our ingredients. As we continue our journey in offering the best feeds, supplements and treats for your animals that also meet our sustainability goals, we will continue to keep you in the loop so you can be confident in the choices you make for your animals and your family.