We’ve got guts. Lots and lots of guts.

“In nature there is no waste.” -Dr. George Washington Carver

A byproduct of our red meat abattoir is a lot of intestines and guts. It’s not as much waste as there would be in an industrial plant that processes up to 100 times more animals than we do, but it’s still a lot. Most people would throw all those intestines away. We’re full-circle at White Oak Pastures, so we feed ‘em to black soldier fly larvae, which our poultry devour, and then fertilize our land with their feces. Win win win win win!

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We breed native black soldier flies inside an old grain silo that stored corn for the cattle before we transitioned to grassfed. The flies lay their eggs here, and then we move the eggs into large grey tubs where they hatch. Interesting fact: adult black soldier flies don’t eat, or even have functioning mouths; they spend their short 5-8 day lifespan searching for a mate and reproducing.

Their larvae, however, eat any and all organic material. We take the intestines from our abattoir and feed them to the black soldier fly larvae (see the larvae in action here). They eat and grow, and when they’re ready to pupate, they self-harvest by crawling up the ramps on the sides of the tub and dropping into a bucket.

The larvae serve two really important purposes: eating up that organic material from our red meat abattoir, and producing a protein- and fat-rich feed source that we use to supplement the diets of our pastured poultry. Today’s chickens evolved from jungle fowl in Southeastern Asia, and they are naturally omnivorous, hunting and foraging for bugs, grubs, and even small reptiles and mammals. We strive to emulate nature at White Oak Pastures, and with our black soldier fly program we go to great lengths to provide our poultry a very natural feed supplement.

They say the early bird gets the worm, not the corn and soy mix. Mother Nature has some really cool ways of doing things, when we work with her.

Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “We’ve got guts. Lots and lots of guts.

  1. Barbara

    I have seen those larvae and never new what they were!! Thanks for the info. Will you do a workshop on them someday?

  2. einjahr

    Hi.. loved your work with bsfl but im just wondering…

    how do you manage your supply of meat waste and prevent them from putrifying before the bsfl gets to devour them? Regards..

    • Angela Huffman

      Hi Einjahr, we’re glad you liked the blog! The feeding of BSFL is definitely a delicate balance. Whether using plant or animal waste, nothing should be left to rot. The larvae consume relatively little during the first week after hatching, so during that time we feed easily-consumed and measured feed stuffs like blood, non-salable eggs, and chicken feed in smaller quantities. Once the larvae become vigorous eaters we continue to balance their feeding but the measuring becomes far easier. It is during this phase that our red meat abattoir waste is utilized.

  3. Johan swarts

    Hi there
    Where can I get some of the buckets that u use for the BSF

    • Angela Huffman

      Hi Johan, we got those blue buckets at Lowes.

      • Johan Swarts

        Thanks but Im looking for the big bins/droms where the larwe are in.

  4. Angela Huffman

    Hi Johan, ours is a biopod like this one: http://www.thebiopod.com/pages/pages/protapod.html

  5. Georgia Rosen

    Angela, love ,love all the work you guys do on the farm to make your meats and poultry safe and nutritious . I wish more and more farms would do the same. I see the demand for grass fed meat going up .
    A species appropriate diet for cows is Grass not Grain!!! Keep up the good work as nature intended.
    Georgia Rosen

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you so much, Georgia, for your kind words and your support!

  6. Julie Steepe

    I have been experimenting with bsfl but I struggle to find any information on them. I am not seeing them in winter and have to revert back to my compost worms. Is this what you have found? I also have contained some larvae in a container with holes at the top for the adults to fly out, but none of them have hatched and after 5 months the larvae are still in the same container. I was trying to find out how long before they turned into adults. Have you any ideas on when this happens and why my captured larvae did not fly away? Thanks in advance

    • Angela Huffman

      Hi Julie, there are many different factors that could contribute, including the climate. Here in Southwest Georgia we have very mild winters. We host a black soldier fly workshop each year, and we’re working on putting one together for this fall. If you scroll down to the very bottom of our website, you can subscribe to our newsletter, where we post all of our events. We hope you’ll come see us.

      • Julie Steepe

        Thank you Angela. I would love to go to yiur workshop however the travel may be a little difficult as I live in Australia. But so keen on any onfo on bsfl.

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