The options in farming worms are very wide.
It is best to develop one aspect of your business potential and establish yourself well before you begin development of the next. Don’t make the mistake of trying to fry all your fish at once. The most likely result will be failure. You must feel your way, learning as you go.
Worm farming is an ideal small business to become involved in, because of the low capital requirements, low overheads and high profit potential,
But, even with all that going for you, if you don’t plan carefully and be cautious in your business practices you can still fail.
While the industry is in its infancy in Australia, there is safety in numbers. The more worm farmers there are, the more quickly and thoroughly can the market be developed. There is no future in promoting a product such as vermicast if the consumers can’t buy it.
If you want to become a worm farmer, you can do it on a full- or part-time basis.
Your first problem, however, is not where to get the worms, but what feed is available. To grow worms, you need feed and a lot of it. Remember, worms can eat their own weight every day so bed-run worms will require for every kilo of worms (4000 worms) 1 kilo of food per day.
Worms will eat anything that was once living. For intensive farming manure is best because it’s widely available. In order of preference by worms, pig comes first, then horse, cattle and sheep in that order. Any manure is okay and the fresher, the better, with the exception of poultry which needs to be well aged because of its high ammonia content when fresh.
This advice may conflict with some other literature you have read which recommends old manures but, if you find yourself confused, try it for yourself. Offer your worms manure in two batches, some fresh, some old. just place it on top of the bed and in twenty-four hours see which manure has attracted the greatest number of worms. Without exception, I have found the fresh manure to attract the most. Therefore, they like it best.
The first food I used was feedlot manure, but by experimentation and observation I found that the worms responded better to pig manure. Simply by offering my worms a change in diet both the breeding and growth rate increased, and my profits as well. The cost of supplying the pig manure was greater than the feedlot manure because it was a 200 kilometre round trip to collect it. But food’s a basic cost and the success of your venture depends on supplying good food. Lost and the success of your venture depends on supplying good food. However, just because you can’t get pig manure easily, it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. Of all the worm farmers I know, and that must be over fifty, only three are using pig manure. The other forty-seven are quite successfully farming worms, using whatever feed is most readily available to them.
If you can, then do it. If you can’t, then don’t worry. You must adapt your operation to the availability of local assets. But, above all, study your worms and learn from your own experience. Visit other worm farmers too. You will find in almost every case they will be only too pleased to swap yarns and help you in your new venture. Most worm farmers love to talk. Those who don’t, or who refuse to talk, most probably won’t last long in the industry. They obviously think they know all the answers, which is nonsense. By not sharing their knowledge, they also have no opportunity for learning and will therefore remain ignorant and entrenched in their own way of thinking. There is nobody alive who knows all there is to know on any topic.
Horses are more plentiful than pigs and if you have access to manure from a racing stable, you need look no further. These animals of royal stock are fed a diet fit for a king and this is reflected in their manure; in this bedding your worms will prosper. (Worm bedding is also their feed. They eat where they live.) Racehorse is the only manure which may be better than pig. The reason is that, like pig, it is derived from a scientifically prepared and balanced diet designed to maximise body growth and, at the same time, great strength and energy. In worms, these features translate as rapid body growth and a high breeding rate. Another benefit of horse manure is that it does not have the offensive odor of pig.
Users of horse manure must make sure that their suppliers know what the manure is being used for and that they tell you when their horses have been drenched to destroy parasitic intestinal worms. Modern drenches are designed to be effective for at least thirty days so that young parasites hatching in the manure are destroyed at birth. If the manure of recent]y drenched horses is fed to your worms, it will kill them,
In order to make sure that the manure is safe, always conduct a quarantine feeding. Use an ice cream container of feed and put some worms into it Leave them for twenty-four hours. If they’re alive at the end of that time, then the manure is safe to use If not, you will need to store it for around thirty days, testing it periodically during that time. When you achieve a positive result — that is, when your worms don’t die or leave — hold it another seven days so as to be certain it’s safe before using it,
Fresh manures need to be added to the bed in layers no more than 100 ram deep. If applied more deeply than that, there may be a build-up of heat more rapid than the rate at which it is dissipated through the surface. This will mean that the freshly applied feed will heat to a temperature perhaps as high as 60°, a level far too high for your worms which will avoid the new feed until it has cooled to around 23°C. Conversely, during winter when the rate of heat loss is higher, it is a good idea to lay your Fresh feed thicker than 100 mm deep, for the very reason that it does heat up and will keep your worms warm in cold weather. They will seek the level in the bed where the temperature is most suitable and you will maintain a higher rate of breeding than you would normally have in winter.