Huhu hijinks

April 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

We were mountain biking at Bottle Lake last weekend, and Jo stopped (can’t remember why), so I coasted along ahead then stopped where I could put my foot down on a log beside the track and lean against a tree. But when I put my foot down the log crumbled, and in amongst the dust and bark I saw one of NZ’s greatest delicacies – huhu grubs!

We’re pretty omnivorous, but not quite at the insect eating stage, so immediately thought that they would be perfect for giving our moulting chooks a boost. So we fossicked through the log and pulled out at least 20 nice fat grubs (they can get as big as 75 mm long apparently – our biggest were about 40 to 50 mm). Problem was we had nowhere to put them for the ride back to the car (about 15 minutes away). Scrounging through my pack I found an old supermarket bag, so we stashed them in there with a handful of wood fragments and bark and made for home.

Our huhu grubs - ready to eat

Our huhu grubs - ready to eat

We didn’t know how the girls would react to them – they’re a bit bigger than the mealworms they get occasionally (we have a mealworm farm in our hot-water cupboard), or the centipedes we collect for them when turning the compost heap. We decided to feed some out to the chooks individually, at least to start with, to give them all a chance to get one and not have to wolf it down with the rest of the flock in full pursuit.

Moth-eaten Claire with huhu grub

Moth-eaten Claire with huhu grub

Well, they were pretty keen and not much put off by the size! Some (e.g. the Dorkings) were a bit delicate – repeatedly picking the grub up, shaking it and dropping it again –usually going for the head end (sensible move – they have decent little jaws there), until the grub was thoroughly dead, then eating both head and body. Others (e.g. Bessie) were more direct – a couple of pecks at the head, then scoff it all right down. Claire, who is rather run-down by her full-on moult,  seemed to get some of her mojo back after eating the huhu grubs, and decided to beat Ella up for a bit – chasing and jumping on her!

Once they’d all had at least one without fear of assault by other hungrier/bolshier chickens, we put the remainder out for general consumption. A typical chook feeding frenzy ensued, with everybody grabbing one (at least), and taking off in different directions to try and eat without being mugged. Bessie stole a few from others, and probably did the best.

For general consumption

For general consumption

This was all well received, and we know they’re nutritious, so we decided to try and make them a regular part of the chooks’ diets. So yesterday we were back on the bikes at Bottle Lake searching for more. Not such good foraging this time though – got only one more out of the original log, and only eight or nine more from other logs and stumps. One was a monster though – must have been at least 70 mm long, and fat! We gave that one to Bessie, as she is the only one laying consitently right now. Also made sure Claire got a couple. Foraging from bicycle is not ideal, so we’ll head back soon on foot, and better equipped for the task. Oh, the lengths we go to for our chooks!

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