Monday, November 12, 2012

Protein Out of Thin Air

Yesterday afternoon was spent harvesting and processing most of the meat birds.  In our quest to feed our animals from home resources, we decided to save the leftovers from cleaning the chickens and try out a method we read about called "protein out of thin air".  After reading most of Harvey Ussery's book, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, I have to say I was impressed.  He has a bunch of innovative and creative ideas I had never read about or thought of before on how to sustainably care for your flock.  Sustainably meaning not going elsewhere for feed.  The basics of the "protein out of thin air" method are...

-drill 3/8 inch holes all around the sides, bottom, and lid of a 5-7 gallon plastic food grade bucket
-add a thick layer of mulch such as straw or dry leaves
-place your animal innards, road kill, that gopher you trapped, etc. in the center over the mulch
-cover with more mulch and secure the lid on tightly
-hang above the ground in your chicken yard

The idea is that female flies will enter through the holes and lay their eggs, which will in approximately six days become larvae (or maggots).  The larvae will grow and feed on the animal parts, quickly devouring all but bones, hair, and teeth.  When they are ready to pupate into winged adults they will make their way out of the holes in the bucket in search of earth to burrow into, dropping down to the ground and becoming...voila! protein snacks for the chickens.  

I know, I know, very few things on earth are as gross as maggots, but I'm learning part of this farming business is developing a strong stomach.  In his book Ussery addresses many of the questions you might have about the possible smell, what happens to the carcass, "aren't you just breeding flies?", disease, and attracting predators.  Personally, none of those issues really worry me especially since our poultry area is large and nowhere near any neighbors.  I am excited to think that an added benefit may be a decrease in the already annoying fly population since many of their larvae will be eaten on the spot by hungry chickens and ducks.  

In less than a week we will know whether or not it works.  I'll keep you posted!


  1. Ha ha,hi Luke. Yes it worked all too well. It was gross and stinky but the chickens feasted on thousands of maggots! I'm still debating on whether I will try it again. The smell was pretty bad but otherwise it worked great. I'll do a post to follow up with details. Hope you're well:)