Strictly Cow Manure

An interesting question from Tom:

I was wondering about something I saw. At a friends rural property I
saw that it was frequented by “scrub cattle”. Since their manure piles
quickly become gray I had an idea. Could a person start a bin with
virtually all aged manure piles and only add more when they have been
devoured? My thinking is that since castings are black and this manure
is gray knowing when to add more would be rather simple. Color coded
vermicomposting. I could start at the botom of a bin and just keep
adding until I run out of room. I’m wondering if any bedding would
even be required.Just keep it moist. Thanks.

Hi Tom,
Using solely aged manure as a food/bedding can certainly be a viable option. In fact, if there was ever an “ultimate” food (and habitat) for worms, this would be it. This assumes, of course, that we’re are talking about something fairly bulky and fibrous (manure slurries, or sloppy wet material in general won’t work). It also assumes that the material HAS been allowed to age or pre-compost for a long enough (how long, will vary from one material and process to the next).

My recommendation for the material you’ve mentioned would be to start by testing it out on a small scale in an existing vermicomposting system. If it is dry stuff, make sure to hydrate it (to the point of being nice and moist but not dripping), before adding a small amount on top of the worm habitat zone. This test (and use of the material in general) is best suited for an open – or at least very well ventilated – system.

If the worms are coming up to feed on the manure quickly/readily you are probably ok to use a container of just the moistened manure as an actual worm bin (may want to start with a handful of worms just to be absolutely sure).

It’s important to note that worm castings are not always black. The color can often be influenced by the main materials being processed. Manure vermicomposts often seem to be more of a brown color than black, in my experience, and in systems where I’ve used a great deal of egg carton cardboard I find the end product can actually be quite gray in color. That said, I’m sure you will see enough of a difference between the gray manure material and the finished vermicompost to be able to tell what’s finished and what’s not.

Hope this helps!

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    • Tom Bergstrand
    • March 25, 2013

    Thank you for your quick reply. As for the time factor we are dealing with several months since as “scrub cattle” they need to be moved around and not returned until that area has recovered enough for them to graze some more. I flipped one of the “cow patties” over and saw a plethora of small “creepy crawly” things gathering there and they seemed happy. I must remove them before inserting the “meadow muffin” into a bin. Thank you again.

    • Nathan Jones
    • March 26, 2013

    I live near Worm Power and a couple years ago they had an open house.

    While they didn’t reveal their “recipe,” we did learn what goes into their process and the primary ingredient was cow manure.

    Going from memory here, there were several ingredients (the first two I am sure of):
    1) Manure solids, the liquid gets separated and pumped into a holding pond where it is then pumped out for use directly on the fields.
    2) Spoiled Silage.
    3) Used bedding… I think.

    They then mixed their ingredients together and briefly composted them in aerated bins, with a single turn. Their goal here was to reduce pathogens as much as possible, in case the worms were not sufficient. This would not necessarily be required if you don’t plan on selling the finished product.

    Finally, they spread the pre-compost about an inch thick in their flow-through bins… roughly 8 feet by 25 or 30 feet. At the time, they had two bins, but I think they’ve expanded since then.

    • Bentley
    • March 26, 2013

    TOM – sounds great to me! Keep us posted.
    NATHAN – Worm Power is a very cool company. They have some really interesting YouTube videos as well:

    • John Duffy
    • March 26, 2013

    The gray cow patties will work just fine in your worm bin. If your bin is inside, you might want to add some shredded news paper or cardboard. Otherwise, you may notice a Spring Pasture “aroma.”
    I put a few patties in my VB24 and my wife pointed out the “aroma” and kinda “suggested” that I make the aroma GO AWAY!…Some news paper & cardboard quickly took care of the issue and peace and tranquility soon returned to the land of vermi bliss (a.k.a. my garage)

  1. Hello all,

    I believe as well that the cow putties should make an excellent worm food as long as they are not to dry.

    I worked for years now with horse manure and pure dog poop and both work very well. Most of the times it is about 2 to 3 days old because I am to lazy to pick it up every day but if I find it fresh I throw it in the dog poop worm bins as well! I’ve got 3 of those bins for more than 10 years now.

    I don’t add anything else than dog poop till the bin is completely full! Than I harvest about 3/4 of the castings from the bin use them for my flowers and trees and fill it up again with dog poop.

    I only add about a layer of 2 inches / 5 cm of dog poop at a time and never over the whole surface of the bin. Just in case something might go wrong. But so far in all the years I only once had an acidic build up in the bins.

    Another point I noticed is the fact that the worms seem to have an exceptional breeding need in the dog poop bins! You could virtually see
    hundreds of cocoons right at the surface!

    So I don’t see any reason why cow manure shouldn’t work like a bomb as well. After all the worms don’t have teeth and love to feed on soft and nutritious food like manure!

    All the best and happy worming

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • April 29, 2013

    Well I seem to be ready for my endeavor. I went out on the road to my buddies house and was able to park right in the middle of the road. That happens when no more than 3 cars a day go by. I walked about 50 feet into the area where the cows wander and was able to fill an 18 gallon Rubbermaid bin to the top with dried “meadow muffins”. I brought it back to my garage and took one piece and saturated it with water. I then placed it just under the surface of a container that I know contains a bunch of ENC’s. The next day I moved a bit of dirt and saw that the ENC’s that found it were enjoying it. Soooo, in about 10 days I will get 2 pounds of Red Wigglers and set them up in their very own bin along with one level of totally saturated flat “cow patties”. With one level I will be able to chart progress and also add water from the top quickly and easily. Not to mention hang bottles of frozen water just above “ground zero” for their comfort. If they devour it as I hope I will continue to add levels until we reach the top at which point I will split the worms up. I will leave about one pound to finish all the compost and the rest will start one or two more bins. Just to show my appreciation for their hard work I have set aside a supply of clean water that has been subjected to a reverse osmosis procedure. No chemicals of virtually any kind. It’s the least I can do. I will keep you informed.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 2, 2013

    Well, they came this morning (Thursday) and I was somewhat ready. I was told that they would ship on a Monday morning soooo I ordered on Monday evening thinking they would ship in 6 days. NO NO NO. They shipped on Tuesday morning so I HAD to be ready. I cut a flat piece of cardboard the same dimensions of the bottom of the plastic bin. I cut a bunch of strips about 3 inches long and soaked them. BTW, my water has gone through a reverse osmosis so as to make it as pure as possible. So, with all the soaked strips bent and scattered over the flat (also soaked) cardboard I dropped them in. The odd bent pieces of cardboard was designed to give them a “maze” to kinda hang out in until they “acclimitized” to the bin. I had enough “muffins” pre-soaked and ready to cover the entire area over them. The info said it would take between 24 and 48 hours for them to get up to speed. It looks like they don’t have a watch. 10 hours later they are under, over and all around those “pre digested cinnimon rolls” even before fattening up as promised. I think I might have found a cool way to care for and feed (for free)the givers of compost. The temperature and humidity will be the only problems I should face. Since plastic tends to hold moisture ……. so? And I have a method of hanging a frozen 1 liter bottle just a couple of inches above the “fray” which keeps the temp (so far) at 75 degrees in a 95 degree garage. So far, so good. Once again, I’ll keep in touch.

    • Bentley
    • May 2, 2013

    Hi Tom,
    Just wanted to quickly pop by and say thanks for the great updates.
    Keep us posted!

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 5, 2013

    Well, on the first night they stayed true to form. They literally “climbed the walls” trying to escape. The lid on the bin proved up to the task. After that they stayed under all the “moo poo” and seemed to dine in peace. The bin is not “totally” dark enough to keep all light out. This is probably why they stay submerged. I went out to the garage to check on them at about 10PM and they were feeding on the top, bottom and all points between. So I rigged up a curtain of black plastic that blocks the light but not the air. They are now devouring top and bottom 24 hours a day. Looks like I found a good and FREE food source. I’ll keep you informed.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 8, 2013

    Well I guess they like their new home. I peeked in today to see about half of the “cow patties” gone and lo and behold one of the worms deposited a cacoon right on top of a “muffin” right in the middle of the bin. I guess that’s the way they say “Life is good”. My humidity meter is reading about 45 percent with an average temp of 80 degrees. About another week and I’ll probably have to put in a new layer of food.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 17, 2013

    Well it’s been 2 weeks and the worms seem to have adapted well. Today I took another bunch of muffins and soaked them good in water and added them to the bin. This was about 1 PM. I did a bunch of stuff and then we went to dinner with friends. We returned at about 8:30 PM and I went to check. EVERY muffin had a slew of worms hanging onto them from underneath. The air holes allow a bit of light during the day so they feed from down under as is their modus operendi. Every one I picked up showed great signs of life. When the light gets in they scatter post haste. I’m thinking that kind of agility must accompany good healthy worms. With this kind of eating and dispensing castings it would appear that in another month or 6 weeks I will be forced to split the bin. (More likely 6 weeks). Between now and then I must decide if I wish to stay with multiple 18 gallon bins or start a 35 gallon with what I have and later on move some of the excess worms back to the original 18 gallon bin and build that one back up. I would think that as long as they are in the same enviornment for them life goes on. Each time I have created a new level of “butt buns” I have covered it with a liberal sprinkling of finely crushed egg shells. With all this AND pure water added to achieve the moisture they seem to enjoy I see no reason that they should disappoint me.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 25, 2013

    Well, it’s been 3 weeks since this started and we had an “upgrade”. I had originally received 2 pounds of worms and put them into one bin that measured 9″x13″ at the bottom. A bit more at the top but they took up less than half the depth so the 9″x13″ is the operative size for now. It seems that yesterday they tried a bit of a “jailbreak” with no reason. Sooo having another bin that was a duplicate to the first one with air holes covered with screen I decided to split the bin. I figured that if anyone was unhappy it would be the ones that were moved. The ones that stayed in bin #1 would suffer no “moving shock”. Tom was WRONG! Both bins were unhappy with the split and BOTH tried to escape. About 10 were successful. Out of 2,000 or so that wasn’t even a minor set back. I have fed them both a pair (each) of big, fully soaked “poo pies” with a generous sprinkling of ground up egg shells for “gizzard gravel”. Tomorrow morning will tell if they have settled down. A couple of hours ago I lifted the food and there were a BUNCH of worms feasting on each one. OR so it seems. They might have only been lapping up the moisture provided by them. I’ll keep you posted. I really hope this works since the price of food is great and when I harvest it’s ALL great for compost tea or potting additive even if some small “cow bomb” clumps get mixed in.

    • Bentley
    • May 28, 2013

    Thanks for the continued updates, Tom!
    Interesting that they suddenly decided to be restless. Hopefully they have settled back down for you.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 30, 2013

    They have settled down quite nicely. Both bins are just lazily feeding on “bovine buns” mostly from the bottom. One thing that seems to make it all look good is that when I work the bedding with my fingers to check for moistness the worms that I come in contact with scramble away quite quickly. This indicates to me that they are spry and healthy. It is my thought that the bins will be doubled in about 3 or 4 months so another bin split will be called for. I’m thinking that both bins can be combined into a bigger (32 or 34 gallon bin) or some such depending on availability. This will leave me the 2 smaller bins available for restocking when the time comes to once again split them up. Actually I have 3 smaller bins but one of them is currently used to keep the “prarie pancakes” in. I was using a swamp cooler for temp control and moisture but found that to be a “double edged” sword. The air contains cool water but seems to take moisture away quicker than it builds it up. I am presently content to use a moisture meter on one bin and a thermometer on the other and interchange them one day to the next. If I gain temperature above what I feel is good I will put a frozen cube into each one such as the kind you would put in a cooler when you go food shopping or on a picnic. I can suspend them about 2 inches above the food. If I see a drop in moisture I will give them a spray of water to moisten the top. I still check under the surface for moisture which governs how much of a spray they get. I have yet to suffer a really dry condition since the plastic bins hold moisture more than other bins which is precisely why they were chosen for this high desert situation. Hopefully they are again enjoying eating, pooping and “visiting”.
    I’ll be in touch.

  2. Hello Tom,

    thankyou for the great information about your cow manunre worm bins.

    I just want to suggest that you make sure that the moisture content is always sufficiant in your worm bins. You donĀ“t want the bedding and cow manure to dry out completely. This could be lethal for your worms!

    When in doubt rather add to much water than to little!

    Kind regards and happy worming


    • Tom Bergstrand
    • May 30, 2013

    That is sound advice for sure. There are 6 holes on the bottom (1 inch in diameter with screening). The beauty is that it takes what it needs and the excess drains out into the tub in which they sit. That little bit of liquid that does drain out succumbs to the dry air and never just sits. I truly welcome your advice as well as anyone else that has any hints as to how to advance this. So far my only problem was the attempted “jail break” after splitting the bins. I can live with that. Thank you again.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • July 10, 2013

    Well, back again with another update. Having gotten tired of trying to “spoon feed” my worms when the bin looks that they “might” need more I just soaked what manure I had and dumped it all in. Slowly but surely it seems to be disappearing from the bottom up. They are surely converting the manure into castings but I’m not so sure it is at the same rate that they would convert food scraps. Considering all the horror stories that seem to be associated with food scraps I think I will take my “lumps” on performance in the “poop” department and continue to just keep them cool and moist. Which brings me to my latest brainstorm. When I see videos about the “big guys” that feed a million or more worms on a strict diet of manure they ALL “seem” to use a flow through method. Poo on the top, castings out the bottom. Add water when needed and “life goes on”. Since I stated in my original “game plan” that we have precious little humidity the idea of a wooden bin is unacceptable I am hard pressed to determine what I could use (plastic) that would accomodate a large and growing number of worms and castings. In my travel trailer there is a 40 gallon fresh water holding tank. It is made of fiberglass. It is clear also. Soooo could I take one of these, paint the outside black and turn it into a flow through system. I have no doubt that the mechanical portion is possible I was wondering about the fiberglass construction being accepted by the worms. My bins are plastic as are about a skrillion other bins BUT I think fiberglass is a separate chemical composition. Any advice??? Thanks

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • July 25, 2013

    Well, well, well. What to do, what to do. Yesterday I harvested both of my bins. I have what seems to be a full 5 gallons of castings and have pulled out about 1 1/4 pounds of worms. Well, I started with 2 pounds. I am THINKING that our really bad heat took it’s toll. Not to mention that the bins are 9″ X 13″ which is probably enough area for one pound of worms. Soooo it looks like it was not enough room to “grow and prosper”. I have added a third bin and split the worms in approximately 7 oz. groups and have started a twist on the food. Instead of feeding the dried up cow patties that were older “leavings” I went over to an area where the cows had JUST wandered away from and garnered a bunch of fresh stuff. I put it all in a half 55 gallon drum with a top. I have been wetting it down so as to hasten the cooling off. I have started with a bunch of cut up cardboard on the bottom with the “new stuff” piled on top of half of the bottom of the bin. They seem to be actively delving into this. I am HOPING that those born into this diet will eat and prosper while the ones that were introduced were not really “happy”. While harvesting I noticed MANY worms that were ready to give birth but not knowing what the cocoons really look like I don’t know if there is another generation in my castings ready to come forth. I will give the castings a few weeks and then go through again so as to not miss any “newbies”. I’ll be back.

    • Paul
    • November 20, 2013

    Speaking of cow manure, does anybody have any experience feeding worms rabbit food? That is alfalfa pellets?

    • bcoolj
    • January 1, 2014

    Tom, I just finished reading your adventure. it has been some time and I was hoping for an update. Are the worms happy with the “Fresh” cow cakes?

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • January 4, 2014

    Yes they are and thank you for asking. Just today I went to a place that the local herd of “wandering bovines” had been spirited away from about 3 days ago. I will now take their “leavings” and put it in a half barrel and douse it with water and allow it to drain out the many holes I have drilled around the bottom. After several “dousings” I will be able to take a shovel and transform this to an indistinguishable looking putty of sorts. It will take a few days of dousings and pummeling with a shovel to give it the shape (or lack therof) and texture that will make feeding easier. It seems that if they are fed patties about 4″ in diameter it is easier to determine when they have eaten their way to the top. With a traditional bin this is a “non-issue”. But I have determined that I will graduate to a flow through system so their “area of occupation” needs to be easily identified. So, by feeding them, say for instance, in patties 2″ thick and 4″ or 5″ in diameter spread out all over the top of the bin they “should” work their way up in a uniform manner allowing me to harvest a predictable amount on a rather predictable basis. Nothing like a “Win-Win”. My flow through bin will be one of a kind (for ME anyway) and I will share the fruits of my labor as soon as construction is completed. Thank you again.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • February 21, 2014

    Hello again,
    Well as luck would have it I came across two “food leads” that I have decided to experiment with. One talked about coffee grounds and the other (hang on for this one) soda pop. Cola to be specific. Soooo I decided to experiment a bit. I have already started to glean the worms from one of my 3 bins and concentrate them into two while preparing to put them all into a flow through that I am just about finished with. I now have about 10 pounds of castings ready to start making batches of worm tea. The bin that I was leaving for last while weeding out the worms in the other has become a “test center”. I went and mixed coffee grounds, horse manure (very aged) and cow manure (washed a lot) in equal amounts. After mixing it in a blender I got it to liquefy by adding just enough cola to get it like syrup. I then let it sit for several days so it would dry out enough to give it some strength. I then cut out some chunks and added it to the bin. They seem to like it but I still don’t know to what extent. I’ll give it a few days and do a “surprise inspection” to see just how happy they are. I’ll keep you informed as to my progress.

    • Bcoolj
    • February 21, 2014

    Now that’s dedication, pretty interesting stuff. Keep us updated

    • Bentley
    • February 21, 2014

    Hi Tom – thanks for the continuing updates! Very interesting stuff.
    I would personally be VERY careful with cola. Lots of better sugar options than that.
    Cola is very acidic – pretty sure it is similar to lemon juice. You definitely don’t want to be exposing your worms to that. Perhaps if it is neutralized with some calcium rich rock dust or something – but definitely don’t add it straight (even mixed with other things). Coffee grounds are also acidic so the combo might not be all that worm-friendly.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • February 23, 2014

    Back again,
    Took a quick look at the “test bin” today and the worms seem to be frolicking with my “new brew”. As for the acids. I did include a bunch of VERY crushed egg shells so the calcium threshold is (hopefully) met. Also the cola was VERY flat having been shaken many times and then left open to allow all the gas to go away. Soooo, I put another feeding together in the other bin. I put chunks down the middle which allows a lot of access if they are interested BUT a lot of area to retreat to if they find it offensive. So as a plan if it all goes well I will make my mixture of 1/3 cow manure, 1/3 horse manure and 1/3 coffee grounds tempered with a 50/50 mix of very flat cola and well water. As for the acid in the coffee. I have a PH meter which I use for soil conditions when I plant my garden. My grounds registered a SOLID “7” on the scale. So it “appears” that my only cost to feed the little workers will be the bargain cola from the Dollar store. The cow manure adorns the roads and desert around here.The coffee grounds come from our consumption plus the Starbucks where my friend is the manager. The horse manure comes from neighbors that have horses and LOVE for someone to remove the manure from their property. Just in the last week I picked up 5 pick up loads for free AND the fella loaded my truck with a front end loader. To put it into perspective my pick up bed is just over 6 feet long, just over 5 feet wide and almost 2 feet deep. For all intents and purposes that works out to right at 60 cubic feet per load. 5 loads = 300 cubic feet. In pounds, with manure weighing about 25 pounds per cubic foot, I was gifted with about 7500 pounds of free manure. This will compost until next year with the aid of some very large tarps.I am building a huge garden area with 1100 square feet of raised beds with NO walkways counted. ALL solid growing area. This is my main reason for the worms. I am getting ready to brew a batch of Compost Tea to prepare what I have ready to go so I can plant in Spring. So far only 480 square feet are ready BUT that will produce quite a bit (with the worms help of course). This does not include the 200 square foot greenhouse my wife handles which will also benefit from the worm tea. I’ll get back after I see how the worms in the second bin show their appreciation of my mixture. I must also give credit to our rather unseasonably warm weather which allowed me to accomplish as much as I have. We have been 65+ degrees all through the Fall. This time last year we had snow and temps in the 20’s at night and 40 degrees MAYBE in the daytime. I’ll get back as soon as I have results.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • June 20, 2014

    Well, it’s been 15 months since my first post on this and as you know there have been “updates”. The 3- 10 gallon bins that I had in the beginning have somewhat grown due to some luck with the local Craigslist listings. I found 27 -18 gallon bins as well as 3 -35 gallon bins along with 8 long milk carriers. They are the real deal and STRONG. All for $70. I now have 2 -18 gallon bins and 2 -35 gallon bins that need splitting. I’m thinking of making 3 -18 gallon bins out of each 35 gallon bins and 2 -18 gallon bins out of each of the 2 -18 gallon bins I have .A total of 10 bins. They are still crazy about the food (horse manure, coffee grounds and very diluted diet cola). The cow manure was giving me a lot of twigs and such so I abandoned it in favor of more horse manure. I will need all 3 -35 gallon bins to hold all the compost they are making. My one raised bed is booming with melons and zucchini thanks to the worm compost. The greenhouse is doing equally well with tomatoes, lettuce and beans. This manure experiment has worked out very well. I seem to have overcome my biggest problem so far. The HEAT! I had been gifted a freezer so I was freezing bottles of water and placing them in the bins during the day. Tedious but effective. I decided to improve on this. I have a swamp cooler in my garage. I cleared an area and made 2 levels of shelves that will eventually accommodate 14 bins with room for another level for another 8 bins for a total of 22 -18 gallon bins. To make the best use of my swamp cooler I devised a curtain system similar to the ones that are used in hospitals. The type that encircle the bed so as to give some privacy during examinations by doctors or nurses. The bottom is weighted down by PVC pipe with re-bar running through it. This gives it the weight to hold the cool air from blowing out the bottom. With an outside temperature of 105 degrees the worms have a temperature of about 80 degrees. On an average day it is more like 70-75 degrees. The swamp cooler supplies moist air with a supplement at night from my water spray bottle. I was toying with the idea of selling bins in the spring time with a pound of worms and a bunch of mixed manure to feed them until the owner can get up to speed. I think $25 would be fair for a “turn-key” operation but nothing is set in stone. The reason for this is that I don’t know if I want to tend all those bins and keep expanding. My potential is 27 -18 gallon bins where it is now. The upside is about 200 pounds of compost a month AT LEAST. The downside is feeding, watering and just plain baby sitting all those bins. Oh, I don’t really want to go into business. I will supply my fellow veterans and my Brother Freemasons. (For FREE, of course). Anyway, that’s my update on a wild idea just 15 months ago and some good advice from BENTLEY! I’ll get back to you when there’s something more to report. Thanks again.

    • Barry Wuthrich
    • September 7, 2014

    Good info Tom. Exactly what I was looking for. I live in cattle country and picking up a trash can full of dried patties is easy. I made my first worm bin about a half hour ago. (no worms till next week) I may have added too much food. ( about 1/2 an old cabbage and some corn meal) My bin is a large tote, about 3′ X 1 1/2′ X 1 1/2′. I have an endless supply of cardboard from a music store that I teach at, so I used that and some shredded newspaper and phone books for the bedding. After reading your posts, I’ve decided to feed an inch of dry patties, (crumbled and moistened) at a time until my bin is full. My brother-in-law works at the cattle auction, so I may try composting some stable manure/straw as well.


    • Tom Bergstrand
    • October 4, 2014

    A small bit of advice that I learned the hard way. If those patties are dried they most likely contain twigs and other stuff. Here in AZ we have a few types of sticky things that WILL hurt your fingers. If possible put your patties in a concrete mixer with a few fist sized rocks and let it run for a time. You can then strain it out with a kitchen strainer. Put it in water for a couple of hours, drain out the majority of water and feed the worms. I use a mixture now of 1/8 Coke and 7/8 water. The reason that I say to strain the twigs out is that after a bit the food will “clump” and the clumps must be gently broken apart. Usually I find clumps that are only dried on the outside. The insides are filled with worms feeding on the still damp manure/coffee grounds/crushed egg shells. So go gentle when breaking the clumps up.
    As for feeding other stuff I can’t help much. There is quite a bit of info here as well as You Tube. As in business we are successful utilizing a term known as R&D. No, NOT Research and Development. It’s actually Rob and Duplicate. I have taken the best from many and discarded that which will not fit my climate (heat and low humidity), food availability and space available.
    I have seen videos where they put virtually new manure on top of a bin and the worms attack it from the bottom avoiding hot spots and other distasteful things. You will have to fine tune your operation as I have mine. Any help I can give you just let me know.

    • Barry Wuthrich
    • October 4, 2014

    I’ve had my worms about 3 weeks and everything seems ok thus far. The cabbage and corn meal got hard and funky so I discarded it and added cow pies. The worms seem to like it, even though I stick to the drier, harder ones that aren’t messy. I started grabbing about 5 gallons or so every once in a while, which is way too much for my 1 pound of worms, so I just put it in the back corner of my yard on top of a 4X8 plot I tilled up. I’m hoping some volunteer worms will move in if I keep the manure coming. It’s dry enough, so that there’s no smell, but it might start smelling again if I get too much rain, in which case I’ll cover it with compost. I’m hoping I can put up a border, and build up some castings there as I continue to add manure. We’ll see. My compost piles get turned over too often to attract worms, so I plan to try to leave this back corner undisturbed.

    • Tom Bergstrand
    • March 13, 2015

    It’s been a while. My bins have expanded to 8-18 gallon bins with about 1 1/4 pounds of worms in each. I have been harvesting about once a month in nice weather and at 3 months during the winter. The worms seem to go real slow when it’s colder. The summer is no problem since I put frozen 2 liter bottles in there to keep the bins cool. Right now I have about 400 pounds of compost that I keep cool and moist just waiting for planting of my monster garden. The only reason that I have “only” 8 bins is that the food supply can indeed catch up to me. I add 20 pounds of aged strained horse manure along with 2 pounds of coffee grounds rehydrated with the mixture of Coca Cola and Reverse Osmosis water that I mentioned in the beginning. I have recently changed over to unsulphered molasses but don’t have any results yet. Now for my question. A friend of a friend owns a HUGE dirt facility. His business allowed a milk dairy to dump their manure there for many years until about 15 or 20 years ago. He has offered me ALL I want and he will load it on my truck with a big front end loader. I needed the dirt for my raised garden beds. He said that worms would love this as well. I took a lump of it and wetted it down with the molasses and water mix and placed it in one bin just to see. No results yet but it’s only been one day. Now, would this food be better suited for ENC’s rather than Red Wigglers? At this point I am out of horse manure in 6 months so the clock is ticking albeit slowly . I can get tons more BUT if I go over to ENC’s I should be able to feed them the manure I have and not have to process it as I do the horse manure. As for the supply of the manure this fella has for me looks like about well in excess of 5,000 yards. My only cost is gas. About $10 a trip and my labor. My truck will carry 70 cubic feet. So, what do you think? Go to ENC’s or stay with the EF’s ? I don’t mind changing since the market here is huge for EF’s. I can divest quickly and make a smooth transition to ENC’s. Thank you.
    Tom Bergstrand
    Kingman AZ

    • Barry Wuthrich
    • March 13, 2015

    Hi Tom,
    I don’t really have an opinion regarding the ENC’s. My 1 lb of worms I bought about 7 month’s ago are thriving as well. I started them out in the largest tote, that Wal Mart sells. (20x30x19 inches) I just started adding in cow manure every time it looked like the old manure had been eaten. I’m in Tx, so the weather stays mild, and besides, the worms are in my utility room which has an air duct from my central heating unit. I didn’t want to disturb the worms until the bin was about 3/4 full, last month. So I made another bin the same size and dumped the first on out on a tarp. The bottom 3 or 4 inches was a bit muddy. The newspaper/ cardboard nesting material had caked up and wasn’t draining properly. Also, I had added water in case the worms were drying out, which seems to have been a mistake. There were so many worms, I had trouble harvesting the castings, because the bin was so full of worms, and I didn’t want to throw any away. So I took out what I could, (about 1/3) and divided the the rest in half and put back in each tote. Now when I feed, I just dump in about 20-30 lbs of cow manure at a time. Each tote is filling up fast this last month, so hopefully I’ll have an easier time harvesting soon. Any tips on the best way to separate them out would be appreciated. Another thing the worms really love is watermelon. I had a volunteer vine come up too late to ripen last summer. So after the first frost killed the vine, I put the 7 green melons on my patio, and cut them up for worm food from time to time into about 1 1/2 inch thick slices. The worms loved it, and we’re probably talking about 20 lbs of free food. I recorded a few quick videos on my ipad, but I haven’t uploaded them to you-tube, because they are pretty poor quality. Thanks for your help, and anyone reading this thread can know that cow manure works great. I like it to be dry enough to pick up without it falling apart. I just take a couple used 25lb dog food bags to work with me and pick it up when I have some free time. Easy and free, and doesn’t spoil or go bad.

    • Master G
    • January 28, 2016

    Hello. I am planting Moringa trees and 4 plants leaves have succued and leave just dried up in the past three days. The trees are 3-4 months old and about 1-1.5 m high.
    I use cow dung as manure/ fertiliser and we’ve just had heavy rains. Fertiliser applied in December and after rains last week, 4 trees leaves just dried up. Can’t find anything obvious damaging the roots after opening the soil around the tree neither on the stem of the tree. There’s a lot of worms around where the manure was applied. Anything I should know about the worms which could poison the tree perhaps?

    I need urgent help.

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