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Fishing Worms and Rabbits: A Match Made in Heaven?

worms-rabbits

If you want to integrate worm farming with your rabbit operation, have a look at the classic, Raising Fishworms with Rabbits, by Howard “Lucky” Mays. First published in 1976, this little manual is two parts valuable instruction and one part personal anecdotes. Mays tells the story of how he got started with rabbits and worms and gives lots of valuable tips on everything from finding rabbit stock to recognizing problems in your worm bin. Mays started out with $5 borrowed from the grocery money, and in the end he has a barn with several hundred rabbits. You might think that many rabbits would stink, but thanks to the composting worms, his barn is odorless, even when closed up for the winter.

Worms as a Waste Disposal Solution

Gardeners think of rabbit manure as a “cool” manure, and some use it directly on their plants. But manure is not the only waste product your rabbits are generating. There’s also their used nesting material, their urine, and their spilled feed — not to mention the flies that will eventually find their way to this mess. Taken together, you’ve got a hot and stinky waste disposal problem!

Proper composting turns that problem into an opportunity. The nitrogen from the urine and the feed combines with the carbon from the bedding and other organic matter, and over time a lovely fertilizer results. This fertilizer can be sold or used on your own plants. Mays takes it one step further and adds worms to the mix. Worms improve the compost and can be used for fishing, or given to friends. Add in the fact that all this can be accomplished in the same space previously devoted to only rabbits, and you’ve got a real winner!

Getting Started

Your rabbit hutches need to be high enough off the ground for you to be able to work comfortably underneath them. If they aren’t, now is the time to raise them.

Set up worm bins underneath the hutches. They should be at least 10 inches deep. The length and width should be just a little larger than the bottom of the hutch, so that all the rabbit waste will fall into the worm bins. You can make these bins out of anything from 2×10 lumber to concrete blocks — whatever is readily available.

Make sure you have a way to control moisture in the bins. You will need both a water source and a way to drain excess liquid.

Put two inches of moistened bedding in your worm bins. Bedding can be peat moss or well-aged hardwood sawdust (aged 10 years is best). The author also discusses using peanut shells, cotton bolls and dry leaves, but says that none of these work as well as either the peat moss or the aged sawdust.

Make sure you have both additional bedding and an additional compost pile available.
Stock your worm bins with either Uncle Jim’s Red Wigglers or Uncle Jim’s Super Reds (European Night Crawlers). Night crawlers are stronger and generally live further down in the soil. They are great for aerating the soil and grow to be 4-5 inches long, making them popular with fishermen. Although smaller (1-3 inches long), red wigglers are extremely active and well adapted to manure piles. They tend to live near the surface of the soil. Mays recommends that new growers start out with red wigglers.

From there, Mays takes the new worm grower through everything from maintaining the worm beds, troubleshooting, and even offers a few tips for the rabbit portion of the operation.

All in all, Raising Fishworms with Rabbits gives a great overview of the topic and enough information to get a new grower started and keep them going.

4 comments on “Fishing Worms and Rabbits: A Match Made in Heaven?

  • Christopher says:

    I have received my worms in excellent condition. Thank you. One question please. Howard mays’s book started me in 2003. I loved that guy. What ever happened to his place in Gulf port mississippi? I have never been able to find out. I had a large rabbitry in south carolina at the time, and I just pray the family business is still opetational. I have bought worms from your dad in 2003, and beleive it or not within 15 months I had 320 linear feet of beds. I thought maybe someone could help me that is in the business. You guys are great. I’m glad business is going well for you. Thank you very much,
    Chrie

    Reply
  • Back in the day … Howard paid me with red worms .. to dress Rabbits at his farm.
    The First Inspected Slaughter House in the state … MS
    My mother worked with Marie Mays …
    The Worm Queen.
    My mother also Raised Grey Crickets for
    Howard. Happy Chic ….

    Reply
  • Ocpedsnurse says:

    Question: with everything I’ve read on the red wigglers and European night crawlers worms; wouldn’t the worms escape the bin without a lid on it under the rabbit hutch?

    Even in my composting bin at home, I can see they move upward, as I see trails and dirt up at the screens of the bins in the morning.

    Reply

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