Vermicomposting Alpaca Manure

Alpaca

I recently connected with a local source of alpaca manure (will write all about that in another upcoming post) and have been very excited to test it out in my outdoor worm beds. I’ve used some goat manure this year and the worms really seem to like it, so I was optimistic that the same would be true of the alpaca manure. Aside from “gut feelings” about this stuff, I happen to know of at least a couple RWC readers who have used Red Worms to create compost from alpaca poop – so it’s certainly not like I’m on the edge of some scary new frontier or something!
😆

As alluded to a minute ago, alpaca manure is similar to goat manure – that is to say that it consists smaller pellets, rather than the larger…uhhh…deposits some of the other farmyard beasts can produce. I also think that it might be a bit more ‘mellow’ than some of the other manures, meaning the worms will potentially move into it more quickly. Hopefully some of the alpaca pros in the audience can chime in and provide their input in that department.

Alpaca Manure

I brought home quite a few bags of the stuff last Thursday, and of course did NOT waste any time adding some to various outdoor systems. Most of my focus will be on my big wooden worm bin, where I plan to add mostly alpaca poop over the course of the next few months. I poured in several bags as soon as I arrived home with it and watered it down fairly well (it was quite dry). Since then, I’ve noticed that the worms are definitely showing a real interest in it – I’ve also noticed that the pellets are becoming more of a fine particulate material. This is cool, since I’ve read that smaller particle size (in worm food) can have a really significant positive impact on the growth of worms. Hmmm…maybe it’s time to start up another RWC experiment!

Alpaca Manure Vermicomposting

I also have some other plans for my new alpaca poop, and will write about those in an upcoming post.
Stay tuned!
8)

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Comments

  1. Some guys get all the luck!

    • Bruce Westfall
    • June 8, 2010

    And just like alpacas – even their poop is adorable.

    • Bentley
    • June 8, 2010

    MARK & BRUCE – You KNOW you are “worm heads” WHEN…you make comments like that!
    😆

    And I must be one too, since I totally agree on both counts!
    🙂

  2. I am very interested in your results. Please email me when you have an additional post, if that is possible. We raise alpacas and have always used the poop directly into the garden, pots and house plants with great success. We don’t use anything else! We also compost but nothing fancy and the composted stuff is odorless and looks like fine black dirt. We mix that in with the soil too.

    • Bentley
    • June 10, 2010

    Hi Cathy,
    Hopefully you checked off the “notify me” box when you submitted your comment – this is how you can keep in touch with a given post. I will try to remember to post another comment here when I have an update.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with alpaca poop. I am definitely loving this material so far!

    • mike
    • June 12, 2010

    The great part about alpaca manure is that you can actually use it directly on plants. Since it is not “hot” like most manures it is safe to use without the waiting. I ran a home made bin made from 2 five gallon black buckets (1 stacked on top the other, the bottom being used only for moisture overflow containment and the top one with air vents running through the buckets) I used about 10 pounds of alpaca poop, apples, and melon rinds, and paper dust, and within a month it was all turned into perfect VC. Using the worms just makes it easier to make tea out of.

    • Kanna Alpaca Farm
    • July 9, 2010

    Let me explain the reason that Alpaca droppings are perfect for composting .
    Alpaca, like all memebers of the camelid family, have 2 stomachs which completely digest food before being left for the worms.
    Alpaca dropping do not smell, and is virtually free of weed seeds.
    We’ve been composting our Alpaca dropping for some time now, and have managed to turn the terrible eastern Carolina soil around so much that our Orchard grass pastures are growing beautifully. We’ve amazed every farmer in the area who told us Orchard grass hay would never grow in this soil!

    • alpaca head!
    • July 29, 2010

    actually alpacas have one stomach with three compartments.

  3. I currently have 6 alpacas and will be aquireing more in the near future. Recently, I read an article in Alpaca Magazine about the benefits of worm composting alpaca poop. Composting our poop would be a great benfit to our herd managment/disease control program and I would like to eventually sell the compost as 100% Organic Alpaca Compost. My questions is, as far as disease control, how do I verify that the compost I produce is free from disease and can used in the garden.

    • Bentley
    • August 23, 2010

    Hi Steve,
    I don’t think alpaca poop is nearly as risky (for disease) as some of the other “manures” out there, but even just for customer peace of mind it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to go the extra mile with it. I’d see if you can get it tested for disease organisms as is, and I recommend you think about using a “precomposting” stage prior to vermicomposting. This will heat the material up to temperatures that will kill off any disease organisms and will also render the poop a bit more worm-friendly (although they do seem happy to move into it pretty quickly regardless).
    Just my 2 cents

  4. Thanks for the info, I think that is the direction I’m going. I’ll test the alpaca poop as it sits, then place into the precomposter and then move it into the worm composter. Sound good? I spoke to a gentleman the other day and he says that he sends a sample of his finished compost in for testing. This allows him to sell a “clean” product and covers his rear.

    Thanks Again,
    Steve

    • Hayley
    • April 8, 2011

    Where does one send the composted material for testing? We are trying worm/alpaca composting and want to test the benefits.

    Thanks.

    • Bentley
    • April 14, 2011

    Hi Hayley,
    You may want to get in touch with your local cooperative-extension office and/or a local university soil science department to inquire about this. Universities, in particular, are a great resource since they would either have some sort of testing service or at least know of one or more (where they send their own samples).

    • Adam
    • February 29, 2012

    I know this is a old post but is it true that alpaca manure doesnt need to be aged before adding to the bins?

    • Bentley
    • March 1, 2012

    Hi Adam,
    It depends on how you are using it and what type of system you are using it in. I’d be cautious with any type of manure in any sort of enclosed bin (especially plastic ones).
    If you are simply layering the manure on top, and the system is larger and well ventilated, you could likely get away with using it fairly fresh.
    Definitely not as potent as some other manures

    • frankie monachino
    • August 1, 2012

    we are up to 83 alpacas now and and that means we are talking between 2 and 3 hundred pounds of this awesome fertilizer every day. while we don’t compost other than pile. we use it as fertilizer on the flower and vegy gardens. and it is like magic. I am interested in doing something with this resource and the worms seem like they could play a part. maybe an assembly line of worms and poop. Maybe saw dust,hay and fall leaves as well. Worms?

    • Bentley
    • August 2, 2012

    Hi Frankie,
    If you use a lot of the material in your gardens you could probably keep a population of Red Worms right in the gardens as well (maybe with some straw etc over top for protection from heat/cold). They will definitely help to convert the stuff into a fantastic natural fertilizer (likely even better than the manure itself). You could also just set up separate beds for vermicomposting. Maybe create some big windrows with a mix of 1/2 manure and 1/2 bedding (what you mentioned should work great) – let this sit for awhile, making sure to keep it moistened. Once it’s composted and settled (and no longer really hot) you could introduce the Red Worms. You could then simply add new material to one end of the bed and continue extending it like that – the worms will follow, eventually leaving you with beautiful compost on one end.

  5. I use a three stage composting process which produces a very stable, pathogen free product. You can learn more about Nocalpaca Plant Nutrient on our Facebook Page

    • Bill B
    • February 10, 2013

    I just found an alpaca farm nearby and plan to try and get a couple tons for my compost. and since I found out it really does not hurt plants when its directly applied, I will try to get enough to cover all my beds. I really dig all the info from everyone please keep it coming. I have been looking for anything for my worms to eat besides alot of yard waste I use alot of coffee grounds as well as pumpkins and straw, Please keep the info flowing

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