Composting Worms Under Rabbit Cages
Here is a question from Jeff:
I have a rabbit colony that is on an area of my pool deck
over a tile floor and on about 6″ of grass hay. I want to put the
worms directly under them so they compost the rabbit manure and hay
continuously. The rabbit area is on a covered pool deck so it gets
some rain occasionally to keep them wet. I’m also in Florida where
it’s humid and warm all year long. Will the worms be able to survive
in JUST rabbit manure and hay?
That’s a really interesting question! Let me start by saying ‘yes’, composting worms can certainly go under rabbit cages and feed on the rabbit droppings – but, it’s not traditionally done in the manner you’ve described.
Normally, the rabbit cages would be elevated up off the ground, positioned over beds where the waste materials would fall – the composting worms would be found in these beds. This is actually a great way to combine worm and rabbit farming as a mutually beneficial combo business.
Your case is a little different (if I am understanding you correctly) in that there is no space between the rabbit zone and the worm zone, other than the layer of straw. You mentioned the straw material getting wet underneath when it rains sometimes. If it DID stay relatively moist in this zone at all times, without the moisture pooling too much, I think worms would be very happy down there, especially if you ensured that there were plenty of rabbit droppings down in that zone as well.
You could assist the process by adding even more straw up top for the rabbits. This way you could probably get away with adding a little more moisture down below, and it would also help to cushion the worms a bit more – I suspect that the movement of the rabbits could disturb them a fair bit if the layer between them was too shallow.
One of the downsides of this approach is that it would probably be more of a pain to ‘harvest’ the compost and/or worms if you ever desired to do so. It might also get a little messy if there was ever a heavy rain fall, since this could potentially flush out a fair amount of the ‘dirty’ stuff down below (although I would imagine that must be the case now as well). You mentioned this being on a pool deck – hopefully you don’t have to worry about run-off into your pool!
If I was going to do this I would probably only start with a small quantity of worms at first to see how they made out. The last thing you would want is to have a pound or two of worms crawling all over your pool deck if they don’t like conditions in the bed! Perhaps you could start up a separate ‘regular’ worm bin for most of the worms, and simply add 1/4 or 1/8 of a pound to the straw zone to see what happens. If it is how I’m imagining it, I suspect they would love this environment and would end up breeding very quickly.
Anyway – hope this helps