If you have questions about the Chirpbox or getting started raising crickets, just get in touch.
We're here to help promote healthy and sustainable agriculture.
How much water does the Chirpbox need?
You could estimate about 1 liter of water per 2,000 crickets, or a liter per pound of crickets. For comparison, a household toilet uses about 10 liters of water per flush, and about 70 liters a day or 2,100 liters a month. If a 40' Chirpbox produces 1 million crickets a month, that would consume 500 liters of water.
How heavy is a Chirpbox? And does it need a foundation?
20' units weigh 10 metric tons, and the 40' units are about 20 metric tons.
Whether you need a footing for your Chirpbox really depends on your ground conditions. You probably don't need a foundation on a relatively solid surface. One of our customer partners has placed theirs on a gravel driveway. Contact us if you're in doubt.
Do you guarantee the cricket eggs you supply?
We guarantee a 50% hatch rate. We supply 2,000 eggs at $1, and we'll guarantee that 1,000 will hatch. There is a natural attrition rate in all egg production.
Do restaurants buy frozen crickets, roasted crickets or powdered crickets?
This is a fast-growing and changing market for crickets, so demand patterns are subject to change. Roasted or powdered have much longer and more stable shelf life. Frozen product involves more complicated and costly logistics for transportation and storage. Live crickets are almost exclusively for the pet food market.
How much labour does a Chirbox require?
You should check in on your Chirpbox at least every two days, and once in a while, it's OK to leave it for three days. One of the great benefits of cricket farming is that it doesn't require arduous work, but you do need to be diligent keeping your breeding system fine tuned for good yields.
These are the kinds of hours and tasks you can anticipate: You'll need to spend about 12 hours a week for a 20' unit, or 40 hours a week for the 40' unit. Your time will be divided into feeding (20-30%), cleaning (20-30%), dealing with eggs (20%.) If you plan to ship everything live, factor in another 4 more hours per week (two people for 2 hours each) to pack the crickets.
In general, you should anticipate dedicating 20 - 80 hours a month to your Chirpbox, depending on the size of the unit, the experience of the operators and the packing requirements of your harvest (live, frozen, etc.)
I don't know anything about breeding crickets. How do I learn to operate my Chirpbox?
Most of the expertise you need is designed right into the Chirpbox itself so that it will be easy for you to start farming. We'll bring you up to speed on operating your Chirpbox with 30 minutes of video tutorials. For learning to pack live crickets, we'll take you through another 30 minutes of online tutorials. If you are producing your own eggs, you'll need about an hour of video tutorials. Egging is easy in principle, difficult in practice; so we recommend buying your eggs as it's much easier and cost-effective.
I live in Canada with its cold winters. How do you heat the Chirpboxes?
We design radiant heating that circulates hot water through the floor of the unit. This is the most efficient and friendly solution for your crickets. Radiant floor heating prefers a specialized boiler, but that boiler can be powered by gas (most cost-efficient,) electric and less often, propane.
If you use solar, or other sustainable power, we still recommend connecting to the grid. You can initially heat the radiant floor slab with either a gas boiler or electric boiler. But the slab also works like a thermal battery, staying warm for about 48 hours after you stop heating. Then, if you have solar, use it to top up the ambient temperature, and only run the boiler when extra heat is needed. If you're using electricity, the boiler can be run at night when energy costs are lower.
What's inside a Chirpbox?
The Chirpbox comprises two systems: a climate-controlled environment and the cricket farming system.
The insulated cargo container comes equipped with a radiant floor heating and HVAC system that is capable of maintaining a floor to ceiling, and wall to wall, consistent temperature of 35C. The boiler for this system can be powered by gas or electricity. The container is equipped with a processing room that contains a sink, freezer, central vacuum and other accessories and spaces required to process insects.
The cricket farming system is a set of cricket habitats, an automated watering system, feeding devices and other cricket farming accessories.
What kind of output can I expect with my Chirpbox?
As a rule, a 20’ Chirpbox with a processing room, produces 200 lbs a month. And a 40' Chirpbox can produce 450-500 lbs a month.
What kind of running costs will the Chirpbox incur?
Here are some of the standard cost items for a 40' unit: Your local conditions, including climate, will effect these. In cold weather, you could spend $50-$100/month on gas or electricity for heating. Feed cost would be around $135. $200 - $1000 on eggs depending on the size of your unit. $500 on packaging materials for shipping live crickets. Additionally, you may have to rent/lease for your space. Loan payments, of course, if you finance your unit.
The Chirpbox is housed in a shipping container. How do you transport it?
We usually ship the Chirpbox empty. Then we ship the cricket eggs after it is delivered, hook-ups are complete, and it is operating properly. Normally, we load the Chirpbox onto a flatbed truck at our construction facility for delivery. We hire a mobile crane to lift and offload the Chirpbox at its destination. Once it's on a level surface, it can be winched onto its final position. When it's a relatively short trip from our facility to your location, we may be able to hire a tilt-truck to deliver the Chirpbox and eliminate the cost of the mobile crane.
Transportation, siting costs (hookups and foundation) are extra costs. As a general rule, it's about $1/km to transport the Chirpbox, plus loading/unloading costs which are currently about $1,500. But talk to us about transporting your Chirpbox; depending on your location, we may be able to build in efficiencies that will give you the lowest possible costs.
What kind of waste do the crickets produce?
Crickets produce frass, a mixture of excrement and exoskeleton. Frass is a powerful fertilizer and plant growth stimulant, which can be stored and potentially sold. Frass in your Chirpbox is the waste at the bottom of the bin and collected through the central HVAC system.
The other type of waste is leftover feed, which should be disposed of to prevent the hosting of harmful bacteria or other insect species.
What do I feed my crickets?
Chicken feed is the most common and can usually be sourced locally. There is also modified chicken feed that is modified for cricket feed, with better nutrient matching. It is slightly more expensive than standard chicken feed. We can provide this or help you find a source.
What about diseases? Can crickets catch them or spread them?
Crickets don't carry any known diseases that can affect humans, animals or vegetation.
Crickets are susceptible to two types of viruses, that can wipe out entire populations. Bandit crickets (the type that we use and breed) are extremely resilient to these viruses. Crickets do not pose a threat if they escape. These crickets already exist naturally and birds love to eat them!