Worms eating pet poo??!

whytephoenix(z9a Houston)April 6, 2006

First of all, hello... I've been on Gardenweb for a couple of years and have been vermicomposting for about as long, but I'm new to this forum.

I was surfing on Planet Natural when I found the product below. It appears to be an ordinary worm bin but is marketed as a way to dispose of pet waste. It is said to be chemical-free, and I get the idea there are no microbial or other composting organisms involved, just the worms.

I have a cat who uses a compressed-sawdust litter, which is scoop-and-flushable. I'd love to reduce his impact on the sewer, but I'm a little wary about toxoplasmosis and other bacteria, especially sinse some of the compost goes onto edibles.

Anybody heard more on this subject? Thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: Planet Natural's Pet Poo Converter

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squeeze(z8 BC)

yes, worms can take care of pet waste - someone here did some testing last summer by cutting the bottom out of a plastic garbage can, burying it almost to the top, seeding it w/ a good amount of worms from the compost education site worm bins, and fed it dog droppings all summer - broke it down fast enough that it never filled in 8 or more months - worms eat the microbes as much or more than the organic material - could always use that part of your compost on the ornamentals


    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 11:02PM
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I was looking into this issue myself recently and 3-4 places I found online said that there was no way to vermicompost pet feces because they contain dangerous chemicals - dangerous to us and to worms. This was a couple of months ago, so, unfortunately, I don't remember any of the sites, but the evidence was enough to scare me off.

I'd love to be wrong so hopefully more will post evidence here.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 3:04PM
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binki(z8, Portland, OR USA)

One more important thing to think about: If you deworm your pets, the resulting poo will kill your composting worms.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 9:26PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

not necessarily so - medical chems break down fast enough that the worms can handle it - as I said above, the "test run" done at our compost education site worked really well and the worms were thriving after a year the same as in a food waste bin - I'd bet in that time that the 4-5 dogs contributing inputs were treated - the same 'myth' exists about horse manure, and I've never seen a stable manure pile that worms didn't love


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 1:30PM
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Interesting! If I have two 50-lb dogs who produce roughly a quart of solid wastes a day total, how many worms do you think I would need to put in the garbage can? Should they be regular earth worms or red wrigglers? And how small a can could I use? (I have a hard time digging our clay soil.)

Also, is there any odor problem associated with this set-up?


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 10:37PM
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Have any studies been done to prove if vermicomposting cat waste is safe? I really want to start but keep seeing mixed reports.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:15AM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

you might check out this site re cats specifically

vermicomposting of various manures including human biosolids have been done and are ongoing - it does work, the "safety" depends on you, and a good understanding of the composting process helps .... generally objectionable odors are a function of management


    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 3:38PM
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whytephoenix(z9a Houston)

Interesting study! I learned a few things about vermicomposting in general as well as cats (and their meds)in particular. As I probably don't have enough worms yet to equal my cats' ADP (average daily poops, the author's term) I'm probably not going to try this just yet. I'm gardening on a balcony and have limited space for bins. But I'm definitely going to continue to keep an eye on this issue.

Aside, I was amused that the author got his cats to go directly in the compost bin, and how the cats wanted to dig up the worms. Then again, it would eliminate the middleman, and my new kitty would go right in my plants if I let her.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 10:54PM
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I would be be careful about poking around in a bin that contained partly processed pet waste. Even castings that looked "finished" might contain pathogens that could be dangerous to humans. I have read also that it is not a good idea to use this on food plants.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 8:55AM
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how about cooking the pet waste to some degree, lets say in a large pot on a "camping type stove" outside.then adding it to the pile. has anyone done that? it seems logical to me, a little bit of dirty work but i would think the process of cooking would kill any little nasties hiding in there. i would likely combine dog and cat waste in a holding container so i would only need to cook up some **** stew once a week or so.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 12:10AM
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YUK !!!!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 3:05AM
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organic_louie(2a AK)


...how about cooking the pet waste to some degree, lets say in a large pot on a "camping type stove" outside....

Just wondering--how close are your nearest neighbors? :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 8:40AM
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lol im not expecting any pleasant smells here...hum maybe i could toss some lemon zest in see if that will help.but in all seriousness this is something i might consider doing and my nearest neighbors ... about twenty feet
im thinking peatmoss and grass clippings to help with the oder

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 2:42PM
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"how about cooking the pet waste to some degree, lets say in a large pot on a "camping type stove" outside."

lol, I can just imagine it, you neighbours come over to enquire about the stench and find you hovering over a pot of stinky stew. looking very concerned theyll say "what the hell is this guy doing? he's not going to eat that is he??"

iguanaman the men in white coats will come and take you away! :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Composting pet poo with red wigglers should generally be considered safe under the following conditions:

1.) You do not put pet waste in your normal compost pile.

2.) The castings produced from pet poo are used only in flower gardens. I would keep them away from your veggies

I've been using worms to compost pet poo for several years now. Worm bins work pretty darn well and I'm willing to bet it's healthier than having pet poo all over my yard!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 7:33PM
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How would one empty the container without

1)getting poo and compost mixed up?

2)losing all the worms?

3)having to dig the pail up?

I'm thinking one would either pull the bin out of the ground and upend it, or shovel it out, which means to me that poo and worms come out with the compost.

Not sure what is meant by "generally objectionable odors are a function of management". As I have close neighbors that I would like to continue bo be friends with, odor is important!

I like the idea of the Pet Poo Convertor, but it's beyond my budget!

I saw on a "Green landscaping" TV show a wire lined pit with gravel at the bottom. The landscaper seemed to think everything would just float away eventually into the ground, but given hardpan, I can't see that. I do remember he added something periodically, but I can't remember what. I remember not quite believing that it would work with as just straight composting with no turning or work at all.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:52PM
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leearnold(z5 In.)

What was added was the product for septic systems that is active bacteria. The infomercial I saw on vermicomposting pet waste also showed this addition.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:29AM
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OK, I'm going to indulge in a little brainstroming here:

Seems to me like you could use the bottomless can method to compost petpoo, but wouldn't necessarily need to use the resulting compost anywhere else. After several years the can should be close to full of compost and you could just pull out your can, cover the compost area up with soil, grow grass over it and start a new compost pail in another spot in the yard.

Also, as far as adding worms to it, if the area is kept moist and some leaves were added, it seems like the native worms just might show up to do the pooduty. The can is buried with the rim nearly at ground level and with lid on it provides the worms a snug little restaurant, warm, moist, and dark with fresh droppings served daily. You shouldn't have to spike it with any worms and unless you live at sea level you also shouldn't have to worry about it filling up with water either.

One other thought, some kind of a locking lid would keep curious children and mischevious teenagers out of it. A locking lid, that might be a challenge to find. Anybody else have a thought?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:55AM
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A couple questions on this.

We have a vermicompost bin that we made out of a Rubbermaid roughneck container (I think it's 26 gallons?) - would this work for the pet poo composting too, or is something different needed? Their composter doesn't look much different than their original composting bin that they sell. Actually it looks pretty identical to me - so I'm assuming that things work about the same way.

So if I built a second worm bin for the pet poo, that should work about the same right?

Though I'm not positive how harvesting would go - seems to me it might be more difficult than harvesting a kitchen waste worm bin?

As for the bucket theory - sinking the bucket into the ground and when it's full, pulling the bucket out, etc - could work - but would it work in clay soil? I'm in north Georgia and we have red clay - water doesn't sink in as well as it would in normal soil, so would the worms drown when we have our heavy rains? It would take some time for the water to soak into the soil and I'm afraid that a hole would fill up and stay filled up for a couple of days.

We are debating between the vermicompost idea for the pet poo and a doggy dooley system (which we used in the past with good results). We're renting a house now (relocated from RI a few months ago) and don't want to install one here, but once we buy a new place next summer, we'll be deciding between the vermicompost for dog waste and the doggy dooley system.

OR - what about a combination - using the worms in the dog dooley system??

Would the bacteria powder that gets put into the doggy dooley harm the worms??

Any suggestions welcome! :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 11:57AM
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evoluke(Adelaide SA)

Hi Rainbow,

I've recently made a "rubbermaid" type worm bin specifically for my dog poop. after 6 weeks the worms are loving it and are still alive and it is no longer dangerous to walk across the lawn as i now actively pick the poop up for the worms. i haven't thought about harvesting yet, but am not really concerned as rubber gloves are always readily available. in reality no compost should be handle without adequate protective gear but with dog poo vermicomposting i'll be a bit more careful. as mentioned earlier it is probably best for these castings to be used on flower beds than vegies.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 7:28AM
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There is a third cheaper alternative for pet waste.

I used to have a homemade el-cheapo dogie-doo disposal system.

Its was a direct feed method. It will directly feed ornamental plants. And if your using only kitchen waste you can use it in the veggie garden too.

Use a perforated PVC pipe. And worms.
I used this method for a few years before my last move.

With a pipe hidden in the shrubbery you can put your pet poop into the pipe and feed the plants at the same time. No need to worry about harvesting extra icky compost.

I watched a demo video on the net back when i first installed my dogie-doo setup. i looked for it but couldn't find it. So please forgive my long winded explanation.

You will need a large diameter PVC pipe at least 6 inches accost ( 8 is better ) and at least 2 feet long. And an end cap to fit the top of the pipe. Only around 4-6 inches NEEDS to stick out of the ground. A loose fitting cap is best. I had to sand down the pipe a little. Helps when taking the cap off a lot.

I had only one dog he was a 35 pounder so i didn't have a ton of poo to get rid of.

I used a 2 foot long pipe, you can make 5 potty holes out of one stick of pipe and distribute them around the yard. Making it a short walk to any one of them. It also helps in not overfeeding any one hole. If you only want to use one hole the pipe will have to be wider at least a foot, so it will hold more. A PVC pipe that big gets very expensive. SO, if you want a cheap bigger hole a five gallon plastic bucket with the bottom cut out or drilled full of large holes works wonders. Its a lot easer to fill and add browns to. Just don't step on it.

The how too;
Drill a lot of 1/2 holes in the bottom 8 to 10 inches of the pipe, then a couple rows of 1/4 inch holes around the top just below where the top cap will sit. You want holes as big as you can make them on the bottom so the worms can go in and out, more air flow too. The top holes will be a couple inches above ground to keep your vent holes clear of any storm runoff.

Dig a hole 2 to 3 times as wide as the pipe and and around 2 feet deep. You will need to put gravel 6 to 8 inches deep into the bottom of the hole. The pipe will need to sit elevated that far above the soil at the bottom. In non-pores soils make the hole deeper and add more gravel. Leaving room for water to pool before draining away.

Stand the pipe up on top of the gravel and fill in around the outside of the pipe with gravel until it covers 2 inches above the holes you drilled into bottom of the pipe. Finish up by filling the rest of the hole with garden soil mound the soil up a little above ground level. The mounding keeps rain water from filling the hole.

Add worms into the pipe, you can start it like a new worm bin but i added some active worm filled compost from my bins to get things going quick. I started one pipe at a time as i didn't have enough worms to start them all at one time. I never did worry too much about browns and greens going into the holes after that. I kind of let the worms fend for themselves. In any case some fall leaves always managed to get in with the poop.

I think the worms were coming up and eating the fallen leaves from under the bushes anyway. I do have the "bad" gardening habit of sweeping the leaves under the bushes. I considered them mulch.

Anyway this was my el-cheapo dogie-doo disposal system.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 5:33PM
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I compost in the following way: I use 5 gallon black buckets. My first bucket starts with several inches of chlorine free water and 1 teaspoon of rid-x. Dog feces are collected on a regular basis and water is added to cover if necessary. When the bucket is full, it is stirred, the lid is put on tight and placed in a sunny location.

The next bucket is started with liquid from the previous bucket. Lids are kept over the buckets at all times.The sealed bucket is aged for at least 2 weeks, preferably one month or more.

The resulting mush is poured in the flower beds in the spring or fall and tilled in or covered up. Flowers look great! It is also poured into low spots in the grass and washed in. I use fresh urine mixed 10:1 to fertilize my yard and garden; they are healthy and very green, some say the best in the neighborhood.

Rid-x uses anaerobic bacteria to break down the waste; once the first teaspoon is added, the bacteria multiply on their own, just like bokashi or sourdough. The resulting mush IS NOT PATHOGEN FREE!

The same process can be used to vermicompost feces, human and dog, either dry, placed in a black bucket or pile in a sunny location, with 1/3 carbon source (ie: newspaper shreddings, straw or sawdust), and with ventilation holes in the lid, adding the worms after the temperature no longer elevates after shaking or stirring the contents.

Or, wet by adding the month old drained slurry a little at a time to a white vermicomposting bucket or pile kept in the shade with worms as they digest it. The resulting finished vermicompost exceeds government standards as certified pathogen free compost if it has been processed adequately.

Some municipal waste treatment plants in the US use vermiculture to process human waste sludge which is certified and sold to sod farms and ornamental nurseries. It is pathogen free after the worms finish digesting it. Certification requires regular testing.

This post was edited by Stormygale on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 15:09

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 3:01AM
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