Should you rehydrate mealworms before feeding to chickens?

Do your chickens go nuts over mealworms? My chickens are obsessed with them. Kind of like me and chocolate, only mealworms are a healthy snack for chickens. They are very high in protein (some estimate 50% protein content), which chickens need to stay healthy. Protein needs increase when hens are laying or molting, and mealworm snacks are a great way to help meet their nutritional needs.

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Rehydrated mealworms swell in size and are paler than dried. Photo credit: Chubby Mealworms

Most chicken keepers obtain dried mealworms, and some buy them live or even grow them at home. Still others rehydrate dried mealworms, and we wondered, why? Is there any benefit to the chicken?

While rehydrating mealworms does not change their nutritional content, there are some benefits. Rehydrating plumps the mealworms to almost double their dried size, and makes them softer and more alive-looking. Rehydrated mealworms may look more attractive to chickens who have thumbed their beak at them in the past. After they catch on, you can introduce the dried version if you prefer.

Rehydrated mealworms are easier for young chicks, who need protein for growth, to eat.

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In summer, or when water is scarce, rehydrating mealworms is a good idea. Chickens need to rehydrate dried worms internally before they can digest them, so doing this for them allows them to be digested more efficiently, ensuring that more nutrients are absorbed using less of their own fluids. Ben Asquith, owner of Chubby Mealworms, says that if there is not a lot of water available, and if dried mealworms are fed in high quantities, they can actually dehydrate the bird itself. Always allow your chickens access to lots of clean water.

In winter, rehydrating mealworms provides them with a warm, hearty snack, since you use boiling water to rehydrate them.

If you’d like to try rehydrating mealworms, here are step-by-step instructions from our friends at Chubby Mealworms. Let us know if your chickens enjoyed them!

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