So you want to be a farmer?
That’s awesome! We know that there’s not a ton of information out there on how to be a cricket farmer – especially on how to build a commercial or industrial-sized cricket farm.
Before you really dig in, we want to give you a little heads up as to what you’re getting yourself into. So, we’ve created this list to give you some Food for Thought while you’re considering how to build your farm.
Consider your background.
- Do you have any agricultural experience? Is it relevant to livestock?
- Experience with exotic pets?
- Experience with crickets specifically?
If you answered No to these, do a bit of entomological research and get to know the biology and physiology of your micro-livestock. Entomology is fascinating! Or at least pretty cool. And if you don’t think so, you might want to reconsider your choice of livestock.
What drives you to want to farm crickets?
This isn’t a glorious job. This is agriculture – it will not act like a tech startup. You’ll need to think long term – not three-year turnaround.
What do you hope to accomplish with your cricket farm?
Do your goals involve producing small quantities and feeding into your local markets or large quantities to feed into a global market? Is this a leap into the sustainability movement? Are you in this to change the world? To make a quick buck? If you’re in this for quick, easy money, again, you may want to reconsider.
How large of a facility do you have in mind?
How big do you want to be?
Do you have the financing available for the size you’re aiming for?
A farm of only a few thousand square feet can easily cost a lot more than you think just to get up and running; especially if you don’t already have land or buildings or a pre-existing workforce or Macgyver on your staff.
Who’s your market? Where are you planning on selling? Do you already have sales contracts?
Farms are springing up in all sorts of places. What’s going to be special about yours? Do you have the best-tasting bugs? Are you growing crickets with special flavoring? Are yours entirely organically fed? (Crickets cannot be certified organic according to the FDA, but they can be raised and fed entirely organically). Maybe you’re the cheapest? Highest quality? Friendliest staff? <Insert random awesome feature here>?
Expertise in the field.
Do you have it? Does anyone who will be working with you have considerable knowledge in an applicable field? Do you have access to resources that can provide it?
Have you spoken with your department of agriculture, health department, planning department, or any other agency?
What did they say? Do you know how much information they’re going to want from you? (This will vary from place to place).
Still want to be a Farmer?
Awesome! If you’ve asked yourself all of these questions and you’re still interested but you’ve never raised crickets before, we *HIGHLY* recommend the following:
Start raising your own little colony of crickets now just to see if you even like it. Crickets are great – they’re relatively hardy, they’re pretty low maintenance in small quantities, and, except for when they’re breeding, they’re very quiet.
However, crickets have two modes:
- Doing awesome.
They’re actually kind of fragile, too. (I know I just said they’re hardy, but seriously) if the temperature or humidity or air circulation is too far off, they’ll die. If the water is contaminated, they’ll die. If the food isn’t formulated correctly, or if it’s got pesticides in it, or if the grains are too big for them to eat, they’ll die. Basically, if they’re not happy and puttering right along, they’re dead.
How do you start a small colony?
You don’t need a whole lot of space. You can raise them in a garage or spare bedroom, or just a box in a corner if that’s what you have. You can use cardboard, you can use a plastic tub, you can use a glass terrarium if you want. You can basically use any kind of container made of food safe materials.
Where do you get live crickets for your starter batch?
We recommend these guys:
European House Crickets Acheta Domesticus
Tropical Banded Crickets Gryllus Sigillatus
What’s the difference? Not much. They have nearly identical nutritional values. European house crickets are a tiny bit bigger (frozen, it takes ~1100 to make a pound), and a little more docile (which is really only relevant if you’re feeding them live to your bug-loving pets). The tropical banded are slightly smaller (~1400 per frozen pound) and hardier against cricket diseases.
Even if you think you want to have a ton of crickets in your “small” colony, you might want to work your way up to that. Start with 250 or 500 crickets. Each female will lay about 1000 eggs in her life – you’ll easily exponentially increase your colony size even with a small starter batch.
Why so few to start with? Because if you’ve never raised crickets before, a small batch is better to learn on than a big one. Breeding can be hard and pinheads are extra sensitive. You don’t really want to go big until you can definitively keep a vast majority of your bugs alive throughout their full life cycle.
If you need supplies (like waterers or food) one option is to look to Armstrong Crickets for watering devices and basic food and stuff like that. Otherwise, look at chicken waterers and sponges and cardboard egg flats or wine bottle dividers.
Need more help?
There are lots of books available and online resources for how to raise and breed feeder crickets. For a small, personal colony, most of those resources will work just fine to give you a head start on understanding cricket basics before you jump into a giant operation.
Just remember that if you’re going to eat the crickets that you raise, make sure they eat something good for the last week of their lives because crickets will taste like whatever you feed them.
As always, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any of your questions or concerns.