Here at Ovipost we’ve been working on tools and technology for cricket farming. The first thing we’ve created is an automated system for mighty efficient egging. Our first product is an egg pod, and we’d love to tell you about it.
Other agricultural sectors, such as poultry farmers and vegetable producers, have seen productivity gains by having access to dedicated egg producers, so why not crickets?
We’re offering small and large batches of dermestid-free, densovirus-free, Acheta domesticus eggs. They’re pre-counted and packed in peat moss, ready to drop into a grow bin. We can make pods that match your preferred population density, so let us know if you’d like custom counts.
We imagine that many farms will buy eggs on an as-needed basis, but we also believe that some will order subscriptions and choose to stop managing the reproductive cycle entirely.
Here’s why we think these lil’ pods could lead to new methods in cricket farming.
Less WorkManaging the reproductive cycle requires some coordination. First, you need to buy materials and prep the oviposition containers, which are usually small plastic dishes or metal trays filled with moist peat moss. Each container is placed in a grow bin at the right time, removed at the right time, and then kept moist until hatch.
Pinheads are typically hatched in a brooder container, then portioned out into grow containers where they remain until harvest. The pinheads are typically shaken off of their harborage and then poured into volumetric containers, where weight may also be used as a secondary method of counting. However, this results in some die-off as pinheads are delicate and prone to suffocation if they end up at the bottom of a volumetric measuring device. It’s also near impossible to get 100% of pinheads out of the harborage and oviposition substrate.
Another strategy is to eliminate the pinhead redistribution step by pre-counting the eggs and hatching the correct number into each grow bin. This would save time, optimize bin density, and prevent unnecessary yield loss.
FoolproofI’ve heard more than a few cricket farmers describe egging as an art form. It’s a magic combination of knowing the frequency of the chirp song, the timing, and the hard-to-describe feeling you get when you simply know that the crickets are ready to lay eggs.
It's also a total mystery to new cricket farmers. It’s easy to make mistakes and often takes a few years for farmers to figure out the nuances. Getting it wrong means you don’t have enough crickets to fill orders, or you have too many and you’ve wasted precious resources.
Either way, it’s helpful if you can consistently have the right number of eggs at the start of each lifecycle.
After five weeks, there are diminishing returns in weight gain. If you’re growing insects for the protein market, you’ll want to harvest your bugs at five weeks to optimize your feed conversion ratio (FCR). Otherwise, you’re spending extra money on food, water, labor, and space that could otherwise be used to start a fresh batch.
In those final weeks of growth, the crickets also grow wings. This means more chitin and less protein, which is a lower-quality product for most food and feed applications. Chefs tend to request younger crickets for good reason.
Finally, it simplifies planning if you can get all of your bugs onto a five-week cycle. It does take extra work to track the percentage of bins that need to be bred for eggs and reserve that space for an extra four weeks.
Reduced PestsOne of the easiest ways for dermestids move into new generations is through the oviposition substrate. Dermestids cost you money by eating cricket food and reducing the quality of your product. No one wants to see little worms and beetles in food-grade crickets.
Our eggs are dermestid-free and will help reduce dermestid populations in a farm.
Scale Up or ResetFinally, buying eggs is the easiest and cheapest way to scale up a new farm. Our eggs are regularly lab-tested for four strains of densovirus, so you can be confident scaling up a new facility.
What’s next?Now that you’ve heard why we’re selling eggs, we’d love to hear if these points resonate with you. We’re looking for honest feedback from experienced farmers and new folks who are just starting the journey.
Please share your thoughts with firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!