So a couple weeks back one of the blogs that I like to read recommended a new chicken book, The small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery, now she did a glowing write up to the point that I had to go check this book out and I pre-ordered it Amazon.ca and it arrived a week later, and I am still slowly reading it..
That in and of itself is telling, most “of the new improved” books I can get though in one read, with most of it repeat info, standard knowledge, or “SS” aka Stubborn and Stupid info that does not work well but its in every single book.
This book however has been a slow read, a read it and then put the book down and think it, and then go out and look at my flock, look at my bedding, looks at how I make a dust bath. Now I will do a proper and full report on this book, and I will be trying a few things that he does to see if they work within my set up or not, however the basic’s is not what I want to talk about..
Now most of the folks that have been reading for any length of time knows that I self-butcher and will do all that is possable to not waste anything that can be used on the farm, which is why I am struggling with this one.
Now I raise greens, extra produce, and let my chickens be chickens, I use them to clear ground, I feed them red wigglers that I have raised in worm bins feed from the rabbit hutches, and yet I am stumped at the idea of maggot buckets that the book is talking about..
He calls this protein from thin Air, and the idea is this, you take a 5 or 7 gallon food grade bucket, drilling dozens of 3/8th holes into the bottom, sides and lid so that the female flies can enter and lay their eggs but small enough that the chickens can’t peck at the contents, then you can put chopped up road kill, or any extra butcher bits into the buckets, He puts a thick layer of organic material like straw or leaves on the inside and then puts the chunks or parts into the middle, this helps keep the smell down and still allows the flies to easily find their way though the straw and into the middle to lay..
Now you wait, the larvae of the common fly species live, feed and grow in their feeding medium, then only when they are ready to turn into flies, do they instinctively find their way to earth, now this is where the feed comes in.. The maggots leave the bucket by the drilled holes falling onto the ground in the chicken pen, Just as the chickens and duck have figured out to hang around my hanging nets filled with a bit of fruit peels or garden leftovers that I hang to bring the flies to them in their pens, they quickly figure out that those tasty protein fly larve are going to crawl out of the bucket and end up down their gullets..
According to the book, the only thing that should be left will be hair, bones and teeth, so in a nut shell, you are breeding flies, not only are you recycling scrap bits or road kill as per the book, but you are also reducing the potential of the size of each new generation of flies on your farm, as the chickens are eating the offspring that are now NOT going to end up adults flies themselves, so its a win-win-win.
Now I can see the logic of this system, I really can, but there are two main things that make me go hmmmm.
1) it would be illegal per my county by-laws, I can bury the extra’s, I can compost the extra’s and I can burn the extra’s but the rules are pretty black and white that I am not to just leave them out for any length of time and rightly so, I think our country rules are fair and even handed and well-written towards the farmer while still staying on the safe side..
Can you really say that the bucket system with lots of straw padding could in fact pass as a active compost system? Maybe for small amounts left over from butchering, but you would have to make sure that your percents are right between dry and wet materal, then you could say its like a compost bin with holes?
2) Its gross me out! I don’t know why, I am not a easily grossed out person, you are talking to someone who as a young child, had her own spider collection that she hunted and brought them bugs to feed on, someone who moves heaps of worms from place to place, some who has been covered in birthing fluid more times then I can remember, who has covered newborn lamb or kids mouths and helped breath air into them, you get the idea..
And yet the idea of choosing to create a way to produce maggots just makes my skin do the crawl, which is not to say that I won’t give it a try with one bucket and see what happens, but those chickens had better eat those larve as soon as they drop is all I have to say.
I am as interested in the idea of this helping lower and control the overall farm population of adult flies as I am in regards to providing protein to the chickens.
Ok, so has anyone tried this? If so, please let me know how this worked? Any tweeks from the basic idea? How much protein do you get to replace in bought chicken feed vs per bucket? Anyone else besides me that gets the ahhhh feel from this idea?
This is a homestead Blog Hop Post