Feed­ing meal­worms to chick­ens

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QLast month one of your writ­ers sug­gested feed­ing meal­worms to chick­ens which have started feather peck­ing as a means of dis­tract­ing them and keep­ing them busy. Surely this con­tra­venes DEFRA reg­u­la­tions?

AAndy Cawthray says: Yes, this does in fact con­tra­vene DEFRA reg­u­la­tions. Dried crus­taceans and dried ter­res­trial in­ver­te­brates (eg meal­worms) when im­ported to the UK fall un­der with reg­u­la­tions of EU 142/2011. Within this doc­u­ment it states the ‘the com­pe­tent au­thor­ity may au­tho­rise the im­por­ta­tion of cer­tain ma­te­ri­als for pur­poses other than feed­ing to farmed land an­i­mals (ex­cept for feed­ing to fur an­i­mals) pro­vided there is no un­ac­cept­able risk for the trans­mis­sion of disease com­mu­ni­ca­ble to hu­mans or an­i­mals’. In other words, the dry­ing process is not reg­u­lated to a stan­dard that would be con­sid­ered ac­cept­able enough for the prod­uct to en­ter the food chain.

You could be ex­cused for thinking this is ‘ob­vi­ously an­other ex­am­ple of EU mad­ness’. How­ever, there are two im­por­tant things to con­sider. Firstly, poul­try kept in the back gar­den are still farm an­i­mals. They may be treated as pets; how­ever, they are still live­stock and, if you keep chick­ens, and those chick­ens lay eggs, and you eat those eggs, then they are farm an­i­mals. Se­condly, many of us keep chick­ens be­cause we get a level of con­fi­dence in know­ing where some of the food we eat comes from, so why would you feed im­ported dried meal­worms that are pro­duced us­ing an un­reg­u­lated process where you have no con­fi­dence (or come-back) that they are dried us­ing a treat­ment suf­fi­cient to de­stroy path­o­genic or­gan­isms such as sal­mo­nella?

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