A good question from Hannah:
I am studying in the hopes of starting my own worm farm. I have a horse and have noticed in the past that the manure heap has loads of worms which appear to be red wigglers. My horse doesn’t take any unhealthy dewormer or anything toxic to the environment, but about a year ago, there were horses on the property who did. I assume worms harvested from the manure heap would be safe to use as bait since the manure is at least a year aged? Can I start my own worm farm by harvesting worms from the manure if I plan to sell them and their castings?
It sounds like you’ve really lucked out there! Having your own manure heap loaded with Red Worms is the ultimate score for someone interested in starting up their own worm farming venture – especially since you will have an ongoing supply of “clean” manure as well.
Honestly, the way I see it, the entire “de-wormers” threat has been seriously overblown. I myself have used horse manure from a variety of sources for years without any obvious negative repercussions. It’s almost always the complete opposite in fact – hence all my hooting and hollering about this material.
My hunch all the way along – especially in cases where people aren’t very experienced with manure use – is that most of the problems have actually been caused my by ammonia release or elevated levels of salts (both commonly the result of urine ending up mixed in with the manure and the material not having had sufficient time to age in an outdoor location).
Bottom-line, the worms and habitat in the old heap should be totally fine. All that worm-rich material should be a fantastic starter for any new systems you wish to get going – and absolutely no worries if you want to use some for bait too!
P.S. Here is another blog post I wrote relating to this topic: “How Harmful are Vermicides in Manure?” (unfortunately some of the links don’t seem to be working now)
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