Can Chickens Eat Maggots? (Don’t Mind if They Do!)

Very few natural phenomena cause as much disgust in humans as a clump of tiny, wiggly maggots. 

However, your chickens have a completely different perspective. To an average chicken, maggots are equivalent to French fries. They don’t care if they’re on wet feed, excrement, or rotting flesh – a fine batch of maggots is too tempting to miss.

However, because of our disgust, we have to wonder – are fly larvae a good choice for your chickens? Should you allow chickens to eat maggots? Should you rear them as a feed, or should you do everything possible to prevent them from getting in contact with the chicks?

Let’s look into the homestead food chain and find out.

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Sound good?

Let’s roll!

Can Chickens Eat Maggots?

If given the opportunity, yes – chickens will eat as many maggots as possible and love it. Maggots are high in protein, fat, and amino acids. They are a highly nutritious supplement to your chicken’s diet. However, we urge caution when choosing fly larvae to offer your chooks. 

Here’s a deeper perspective. Poultry and other birds are always looking for protein and fat. These nutrients get highly coveted in the bird world because our feathery friends have high metabolisms. 

Chickens are no different – they have voracious appetites and gobble up anything edible. They especially enjoy soft, defenseless insect forms like fly babies (or larva) – also known as maggots.

Maggots contain less indigestible chitin (stuff that insect bodies or shells get made of), more fluid, and are more nutritious than adult flies. The same logic applies to larvae of beetles and butterflies – we all know how chickens will dig the ground and diligently inspect your yard plants on the lookout for these treats.

The picture is clear – all these maggot traits we can’t quite comprehend with our brains and guts make them a perfect side dish for your chooks.

fresh organic maggot larvae in a bowl on grass
Who else wants nourishing fly larvae? We know that natural organic maggots might make your stomach churn. But – your chickens, roostersducks, and turkeys will love them. Drop a handful of these on the turf and watch your entire flock come flapping. And chomping! Here’s a detailed black soldier fly manual from Umass Amherst to help you start. It’s for farmers or fisheries that need an ongoing supply of yummy maggots. Perfect!

Can Chickens Eat House Fly Larvae?

Houseflies are the most common flies around. Thus, your chickens will likely contact them sooner or later. And then try to make a meal out of them.

While an occasional housefly maggot snack likely won’t harm anyone (well, except for the poor maggots), there is one concern with feeding your chickens with housefly maggots regularly. 

Houseflies and their maggots can transmit a tapeworm called Choanotaenia infundibulum. Like other tapeworms, it causes starvation and poor general health in poultry and can spread throughout the flock. Luckily, it can be treated and doesn’t infect humans.

Besides this specific parasite, several other pathogens can infiltrate the maggot pile and make your chickens sick. And not just your chickens – read on to find out more, if you dare.

free range chickens foraging in large private garden
Chickens need a diverse diet – not just maggots! Your laying hens need a healthy feed with extra calcium and phosphorus. But – feeding chicken feed for layers to smaller birds who aren’t laying may cause serious health issues. So – we recommend always carefully reading the instructions for your chicken feed (and any maggot snacks) to ensure you give it to the right birds. At the right time!

Can You Feed Dead Flies to Chickens?

Summertime is plentiful with flies, and many of us have to wack some of them to keep our sanity. Should the dead flies go to waste, or should they be fed to chickens?

Although, in theory, you could offer your chickens a dead fly, I highly advise against it. While maggots stay stationary on a particular food source (hence you can have an idea of where they come from), flies are everywhere and stick their little sucking pads anywhere smelly – from poop to dead animals. So they are such efficient disease vectors, and you don’t want your chickens to contact the pathogens.

Besides that, adult flies are less digestible and less nutritious than their babies. When you add it all up – feeding dead flies to your precious chicks is not worth it.

organic black soldier fly larvae eating melon on hand
Chickens love munching on soldier fly larvae maggots! Fly larvae contain natural methionine – an essential amino acid. That’s good news – since wise chicken farmers may notice that many laying rations don’t have adequate methionine. Chickens also get organic methionine from natural food sources such as oats, alfalfa, and fish meal.

Read More – Do You Overfeed Your Chickens? Chicken Feeding Guide!

What Are the Best Maggots for Chickens?

Not all maggots are equal.

If you plan on raising maggots to add to your henhouse lunch menu, paying attention to the species you’re opting for might be worthwhile.

Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are the steaks (filet mignon) of the fly maggot world. They contain 50% crude protein, 35% lipids, and a range of amino acids similar to fishmeal.

Besides being rich in protein, black soldier fly larvae are rich in calcium, helping your hens form healthy, resilient eggshells. They are one of the most nutritious and protein-rich meals for birds!

However, chickens are not true carnivores! We recommend not going wild with the BSFL treats. But they make a perfectly balanced addition to regular chicken food.

Besides being ideal insect feed for chickens, black soldier flies are not known to carry any diseases, do not bite or cause fly strikes, and are entirely harmless. (Mostly.) They can happily live in your compost pile and help decompose it, and your chickens can come around and have a snack. It is an ideal garden ecosystem.

backyard farm chickens eating food from womans hand
Black fly larvae contain up to 35% fat and 43% protein. They’re the perfect snack or supplement for your flock! Agricultural experts believe that the demand for human food will also increase by 100% over the next 50 years. Luckily, black fly maggots are a proposed supplement for traditional chicken feed ingredients such as corn, soybean, and cereal. The idea is to save more corn (and soybean) for humans – and feed the larva to the chickens.

What Do You Do If You Have Maggots In Your Chicken Coop?

As you must have realized by now, chickens love to nibble maggots. However, that doesn’t mean that they are desirable roommates for them. You wouldn’t want living pasta smeared all over your bedroom walls and floors. Right?

However, in the case of maggots in the chicken’s living quarters, things can get much more sinister than a mere mess. 

First of all? Flies can be carriers of pathogenic bacteria like the infamous Salmonella, Campylobacter, and even Clostridium botulinum. They can get sick from the exposure and pass the disease onto humans.

There is another issue with having flies buzzing in the coop. Flystrike is a condition caused by the attack of fly maggots – as the name discreetly suggests. The flies lay their eggs on living chickens – usually dark, moist, and (or) dirty parts, with the surroundings of chicken cloaca being a favorite.

However, nearly all body areas can be affected. And if feathers and skin are damaged, it’s even worse. In a horror-movie-like scenario, the vile creatures eat the bird’s skin as they develop, causing pain, infection, and a dreadful-to-watch situation.

Although flystrike can get treated, it is best prevented. You will do that by limiting the factors that will draw flies into the chicken coop. These include the following.

  • Chicken droppings 
  • Soggy feed
  • Food scraps
  • Puddles of water of any kind

Be doubly diligent about the coop hygiene during the summertime, when the flies are most active and aggressive.

You can also incorporate direct reduction measures such as fly traps and neat water trays that prevent the water from splashing around.

Read More – Do Chickens Need Lights at Night for Better Egg Production?

Best Maggots and Black Soldier Fly Larva Snacks for Chickens!

We know that the cost of feeding your flock keeps ticking upwards.

Finding reliable snacks and chicken goodies is a lot of work!

But – we made things easier for you by researching the best maggots, mealworms, and chicken snacks for your coop.

We also tried our best to find USA-based foods when possible.

  1. Dried BSF Larvae - Natural Chicken Feed Supplement | Bugs for Birds
  2. Dried BSF Larvae - Natural Chicken Feed Supplement | Bugs for Birds
    $33.45 ($8.36 / lb)

    Here's our favorite source of black soldier fly grubs and maggots for our flock. Bugs for Birds! They're perfect for turkeys, ducks, guinea hens, and reptiles. We love how they come from North America! Bugs for Birds also has excellent reviews. We believe they make a safe, clean, and delicious product. Delicious for birds, at least!

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 03:30 am GMT
  3. Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Healthy Chicken Treats | GrubTerra
  4. Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Healthy Chicken Treats | GrubTerra
    $36.95 ($0.46 / Ounce)

    Want premium, non-GMO treats for your flock? Then try these black soldier fly larvae! (Grubs!) They come from Canada and the USA. They're perfect for ducks, wild birds, and chickens. They contain no preservatives, fillers, or additives. The fly larvae also come in a resealable pouch - and they stay fresh for up to 12 months.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 12:32 am GMT
  5. USA Produced Grubs (Black Fly Larvae) & Organic Whole Grains | Joenks
  6. USA Produced Grubs (Black Fly Larvae) & Organic Whole Grains | Joenks
    $32.99 ($0.21 / Ounce)

    We love these chicken treats! They come in a massive 10-pound resealable bag and are from the USA. They contain a mixture of black fly larvae (fly maggots) and organic whole grains. The grubs are high in protein and calcium. They make excellent forage supplements for your free-range birds. The bag also contains alfalfa, corn, field peas, and sunflower seeds.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 01:56 am GMT
  7. Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae - Made in The USA | Chubby Mealworms
  8. Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae - Made in The USA | Chubby Mealworms
    $49.99

    These black soldier fly larvae (fly maggots) are hidden gems. They're made in the USA and contain oodles of rich calcium for your flock. The larvae are also dried and packaged within the USA. The bag is clear and weighs five pounds. These larvae contain roughly 42% protein and 34% fat.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 05:55 am GMT
  9. Calcium Fortified Dried BSF | Eggcellent
  10. Calcium Fortified Dried BSF | Eggcellent
    $14.95 ($14.95 / Pound)

    Want to reward and spoil your flock? Grab a handful of these dried larvae. They contain around 41% crude protein. They're perfect for chicken, koi, ducks, wild birds, and turkeys. Unfortunately, we have no evidence as to where these maggots get raised. However, we included them in this list because the reviews are undeniably excellent. (Many of the reviews for fly maggots and fly larvae are terrible! - But these have good writeups.)

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    07/07/2022 04:06 am GMT
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Conclusion

Chickens enjoy eating maggots! And the wiggly fly babies are an excellent addition to their regular menu – at least nutritionally speaking. However, since flies are often carriers of diseases, there is a risk when allowing your chickens to forage for grubs without any limits.

As prevention, never feed your chooks maggots found on animal remains or in sewage areas. 

On the other hand, don’t panic if they stumble upon such a food source and gobble them up – there is only a slight chance of a dangerous pathogen landing in their system. Still, remove all hazardous fly food sources such as animal carcasses, limit the chicken’s access to contaminated areas, and watch for parasitic infections and botulism in poultry.

If you want to grow maggots for your chickens? You can easily do it. But stay safe! Avoid raising blowfly and housefly maggots, and opt for nutritious and safe black soldier larvae instead. Also, you can consider other insect feeds, such as mealworms, as these are nutritious, straightforward to rear, and generally pathogen-free. 

Yet, the mealworms can’t quite compete with the nutritional properties of Black Soldier Fly uber-maggot. After all, these flies probably don’t have such a badass, spec-ops name without reason.

If you have more questions about chickens eating maggots, please ask.

We love brainstorming all things poultry (and insect larvae) – and we welcome all questions.

Thanks for reading.

Have a great day!

Read More – Should Chickens Eat Cracked Corn? Does It Help Egg Production?

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