New to raising EF's

dadugriffDecember 2, 2012

I got 1/4 lb of EF's in May 2012. I now have over 4 lbs (Nov). I keep them in 12 rm totes 8x12x16 inches. I feed them chicken manure and shredded paper. I add some compost tea when they need water. I would like to get to the point where I get 50 lb of castings a day for my gardens and orchard. They are kept in an old wood drying kiln at a constant 75 F. Any suggestions or watch outs would be appreciated. I got about 50 lb of casings last time I harvested. Also, I built a trommel from a cheap concrete mixer, some sheet metal and some screen. The harvesting is done in minutes. Life is good but I am a little impatient waiting for the critters to reproduce.

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Aindra(8, BC)

There was a recent discussion when KendraSchmidt asked a question about harvesting specific amount daily. You may find the value from reading it.

Especially Colin9's quote:

has some more discussion of input/output ratios. In particular:

"In general, outputs from vermicomposting processes can vary from about 10% to closer to 50% of the original weight of the inputs."

Some mass is also apparently lost as CO2.

There's discussion of worm mass and flow rates on page 25 of this: Evaluation.pdf

But remember this is for intensively-managed commercial operations with inputs easier for worms to eat.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 4:34PM
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WOW! You are doing great Keep it up!!

I have lots of thoughts and questions.

  1. Food and bedding: How are you aging or composting your chicken manure? Do you have a large supply of the composted stuff? It may require 250lbs/day imput for 50lbs output. I think you would need about 500lbs of worms.

  2. How big is your kiln and is the power consumption worth the gain? A constant 75F is near perfect.

  3. Do you have room fot some large flow-through style bins? It would probably be easier. I have heard of larger systems using hundreds of plastic rm bins or buckets.

  4. how big is tour garden and orchard? 50 lbs/ day is a LOT of castings. I would guess I produce about 15 lbs / day and have MORE than plenty for my gardens and fruit trees. I brew teas, top dress, mix in containers, use as a starter mix, and still have some to give away and sell.

I am an outdoor, on the ground, windrow, horse manure wormer.

Patience is KEY Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 2:02AM
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Your results are already massively impressive. "Life is good but I am a little impatient waiting for the critters to reproduce." Maybe age the harvested vermicompost for a month or so and gather those previously unhatched nuggets of vermicompost goodness of the now hatched eggs. These can be put back on top of your bins to increase the brood.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 2:35AM
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Thank you aindra

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 3:43PM
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I currently have 40 chickens that give me plenty of litter. I will have horse and rabbit manure available when the need increases. I simply shovel the manure into the bins and off they go. After harvesting the worms, I line the bin with shedded paper. Then goes in the litter. Next is a layer of undegested matter from the last round and worms. I also add coccoons and worms harvested from the previous casting harvest. This way the new hatchlings get incorporated. Topped off with more shedded paper and a bit of compost tea to taste. (Hehe) The bin goes back into the kiln at 75F for a month then repete. It works so far.
The kiln is 7'x7'x13' an is 8"thick with great insulation. Power requirement is negligable for heating. I may need to add a small window AC to keep it cool as the herd grows. I notice that the noncomposted litter heats a little for a week or so. When the kiln is more full later on, this will not do. I plan to begin precomposting for the next round in Jan. As long as I keep ahead of the engineering as the biomass grows, it will work out. I have good temp indication in the kiln and in the bins so if emergency measures are needed, I can put some ice bottles in the bins or whatever.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:15PM
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This post was edited by dadugriff on Thu, Dec 6, 12 at 16:50

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:19PM
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I use lots of small rm containers because I find them easy to move around and to work when harvesting. I am open to suggestions but I would like to keep a size that allows me to use my kiln and control temperature year round.
My orchard and gardens include my buddy's as well. There are about 150 small fruit trees and about an acre of raised beds. Would like some to give away sometimes and maybe even try to sell a pound or two. And a flower or two.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Thank you equinoxequinox (is that spring to summer or summer to spring?). I already found that reprocessing the vc after about a month gives me massive amounts of babies. In another month or two these are the next gen of breeders. What is optimum temp for breeding? I can dial that in and run year round.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 5:07PM
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You are the first that I have read about using fresh chicken manure It can really heat up! I suspect that the small volume containers that you use are allowing use of this material. Is it possible to lower the heat for a week or so after restarting the totes? You may wish to experiment with temperatures, length of time for each batch, different initial stocking rates, and different feed stocks. You have a great opportunity to experiment and learn with your small batches and climate control.
I compost my chicken manure and deep litter before giving to worms. I use fresh, pure horse manure (no bedding) and my worms love it and reproduce/ expand well. I do not do whole batches, but rather top feed once every 7-10 days. I have heard fresh rabbit manure is ok too.
I like your power trommel sifter! I made a low-tech version with 2 buckets and hardware cloth. It runs on beer and has lasted about 4 years now. I finally got to the point where I quit sifting. I remove the top 8" of my windrow, set aside, and shovel the rest into my garden or wheelbarrow. I then replace that top 8" to the bed. Sifting takes out any worms leftover, sticks and rocks and makes it pretty, but my garden does not care. Pretty simple and quick
You are doing great. Keep it up and keep us posted.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 6:21PM
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tulips101(5a sterling il.)

Yes i have read that you shouldremove you adult breeders every 4 weeks and keep them seperate so they will breed better and do this for 4 time then give them a few months break and with the adults out the babies you have will grow bigger faster,I was wondering if anyone in this forum has ever tryed this.It sounds like a good idea i would like to increase my euros and i havent seen any eggs yet so i wonder how long i should have them in there bed before i try this. Thank you

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 12:35PM
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