What Worms Will Consume Dog Waste?

A question from Mark:

Are there any worms available that can breakdown dog waste in a
compost heap?

Hi Mark,

I’d guess that just about any species of composting worms (eg. Red Worms, European Nightcawlers, Blue Worms, African Nightcrawlers etc) could help you process dog wastes. As a “real world” example of this – my brother-in-law and I added a small number of Red Worms to a backyard composter where he’d been piling his dog’s feces (along with some yard waste) for quite some time.

He reported that the level of material in the composter started to go down more quickly from then on. When I checked on things the following year – sure enough, there was a thriving population of the worms in the system.

I myself have had similar results with (compostable) cat litter wastes.

The best way to ensure your success with ANY type of fresh manure, is to make sure you provide the worms with a decent-sized, quality habitat zone before you start adding it. This way they have a safe place to live, and they can access the wastes once they have aged sufficiently. If you have an existing compost heap, you may simply need to tweak it a bit to make it more worm-friendly – such as by adding well-aged farmyard manure, (moistened) shredded cardboard, and/or compostable food wastes. I only mention this because a LOT of people create “compost heaps” with bulky, resistant yard wastes, sod & soil etc – not exactly the stuff that composting worm dreams are made of!

It should be noted that if you live in a somewhat warmer (than my Southern Ontario) region, there is a pretty good chance you will end up with Black Soldier Fly larvae in an outdoor dog-waste-composting heap as well. They don’t directly antagonize the worms – and they are excellent waste processors in their own right – but they can degrade the habitat to the point of basically making it unlivable for them (especially when temps are very hot). Keeping the system in a cooler (shaded) location, and making sure to regularly mix in plenty of carbon-rich bedding materials (such as shredded cardboard/newsprint) should help, though.

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    • John W
    • August 3, 2014

    Last year I had great success just dumping dog poo into a large bucket that I had drilled some drain holes into. The flies were a large problem, but what I noticed was the worms used the holes I had drilled and dug into the ground a little. The flies broke down the big chunks of poo and once tey moved on the worms would come in am finish off the dirty work. It was not a perfect system and I did not add much of any type of bedding, but t was just a rest to see what would happen. They only real thing to remember is to make sure your dogs have not had any de-wormer recently.

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