Mike Omoyo Okee has taken up some odd activities. The 44-year-old collects bones and blood to rear termites, maggots, and flies. It’s a smelly, dirty job, but it saves him money on chicken feed.
Mr. Okee lives in Pece-Aywee village in northern Uganda’s Gulu district. He started rearing insects when he realized how much he could save by using them as poultry feed. He explains: “One day in 2015, I was walking from the abattoir where I had gone to get bones for the dogs at home. I saw birds eating maggots. I stopped and watched, only to realize the maggots were from rotten bone meat—and something clicked in my mind: How about feeding the chickens with these maggots? That’s when I started thinking of alternative and cheaper feeds.”
Mr. Okee had been spending a lot of money on chicken feed—up to 500,000 Ugandan shillings ($132 US) each month to feed his 300 birds. The birds take two months to mature and weigh five kilograms each.
Mr. Okee is confident in his new feed, thanks to a radio program on Mega FM. He says the program is very educational and features many questions from the community. The program confirmed that insects are a good source of chicken feed.
Insects can also be used as fish feed. Several fish farmers in the Wakiso district of Uganda are exploring using insects as feed, with the support of a radio program on Radio Simba. Hakim Ssendawula explains: “I am a fish farmer and I know very well that fish love crickets and grasshoppers very much. They eat grasshoppers of any kind. If it falls in the pond, the fish will automatically pick it up.”
Mr. Ssendawula plans to start rearing grasshoppers because they multiply quickly. He adds: “Insects have high protein content. When you give the birds and fish these insects, you will see how much they love eating them. I also believe it will help me save money that I was using to buy feed.”
Mr. Okee is raising maggots, termites, and flies to feed his chickens. He says the rearing process takes just a few days and is affordable—although a bit unusual.
To get started with maggots, he places maize in a bucket with water for several days, either covered or open. Flies lay eggs in the water. Mr. Okee says that by the fourth day, larvae or maggots will be in the bucket, ready to feed to his chickens.
He also raises maggots on animal dung, straight from an animal’s intestines. He gets the animal remains from an abattoir free of charge, and mixes them with a little animal blood. He places the mixture in a bucket or basin, and the strong smell attracts flies. He says that by the third day, maggots will have developed in the bucket. By the fourth day, he can feed them to his chickens.
Mr. Okee adds: “This process seems to be crazy … going to the abattoir and collecting such wastes. Sometimes people think you’re mad and wonder what you are going to use them for. But I am now comfortable collecting any wastes because I know the benefits.”
To raise termites, he cuts a eucalyptus tree into pieces. He says the smell of the tree attracts termites. He places the pieces of the tree around his home, and after just a few days he can find termites. The chickens freely eat the termites as they wander around his property.
Attracting flies is a messier process, like raising maggots. Mr. Okee boils animal bones to get a smelly soup. He leaves the soup to cool for several hours in a basin or bucket. Flies are attracted to the soup and often get trapped. He uses a sieve to remove the flies and feed them to the chickens.
Mr. Okee says the insects are good for his business. His chickens have grown healthy and big and will fetch a good price. He is also saving money on feed.
This story was originally published in December 2016.