Should I feed my hens mealworms?

Let us start by confirming the obvious – hens LOVE mealworms! They are to chickens what chocolate is to humans. However, there is much misinformation surrounding the dos and don’ts of feeding mealworms and below we present the facts.

In 2014 Defra announced a ban on the feeding of mealworms to chickens.

The ban is still not widely known by many poultry keepers. It can even cause confusion among those who do know about the ban, but do not understand the rationale behind it.

To put it simply most mealworms are imported and may have come into contact with, or been fed, animal protein which could then potentially pass on disease.

To provide context, the definition of products potentially containing animal proteins was redefined following the BSE epidemic in the 1980s and the foot and mouth outbreak of the early 2000s.

Importing mealworms which have not been inspected and certified means there is no way of knowing if they have been ingesting animal proteins or not. Here is the exact wording taken from Defra’s 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.

Dried aquatic inverterbrates can only be used in farm animal feed (for non-ruminants) if they come from an approved ABP premises (or non-EU equivalent) – then they’re considered fishmeal.

We are duty-bound to provide you with the most current, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions when it comes to your own hens.

Defra says it is currently ‘in discussion with the EU and other Member States with regard to relaxing the current tight ban on the use of insect proteins as feed for farm animals, but only once the risks have been fully considered, and providing safeguards to public and animal health are ensured.’

So please remember that, for now, it remains illegal to feed dried mealworms to chickens.



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