Thursday, July 10, 2014

Worm Breeding Boxes

Find more worm breeding tips: Worm Farm Manual

While we're on the subject of how many worms to stock into your worm beds, let's talk  about "propagation" boxes or worm breeding beds.  You want to stock your worm breeding beds differently than your worm growing beds.

Worm Breeding Boxes

If you want to accelerate your worm farm production quickly with less cost, you should get starting breeding your own worms right away.  You could just let nature take it's course and let the worms do their own thing at their on pace, but you can speed things up.

There a several good reason for encouraging your worms to produce more egg capsules:
  • you won't have to buy so many worms from another worm farmer, 
  • you'll be selling worms yourself much sooner, 
  • and it will have a positive effect on your bottom line.

Breeding boxes can be built out of wood or they can be plastic bins.  They should be approximately 14 inches wide, 18 inches long, and 6 inches deep.  If you have several breeding boxes, you can stack them to save space.  Just make sure there is a space for air to circulate around each bed.

For ease of handling, I built shelves that I could slide the trays in and out without having to pick them up and move them about, sort of like a chest of drawers.  Believe me, you want to make this as easy as possible because you will be working these beds daily and you don't want to have a system that requires a lot of stacking and un-stacking.  The inexpensive plastic shelving from home building stores are good for storing your worm boxes, too.

Worm Breeding Box Bedding

The best material that meets all the requirements for worm bedding is horse manure, properly aged beyond the heating up stage.  It is loose, porous and has the lowest possibility of causing "protein poisoning". It great for breeding boxes as well as growing beds.

Now, everyone may not have access to this wonderful stuff (and to the wonderful creatures who produce it), so there are alternatives.

A good option is plain Sphagnum peat moss.   It's clean, is holds moisture, and it stays loose.  But because peat moss has an acid ph when dry, you must moisten it moss 24-36 hours before introducing any worms.  This moistening will reduce the acid to the correct level. The downside is peat moss bedding is it must be changed out every 14 days. 

Once you have 500-600 (about two pounds) mature breeding earthworms, you can pull them out of the growing beds and place them into the breeding boxes.  (Breeding earthworms are "banded" and at least 6 months to 1 year old.)

Caring For Your Earthworm Breeding Boxes

For the best results, follow this DAILY regime:
  • Check the bedding moisture closely.  The shallow boxes will dry out quicker.
  • Feed a highly nutritious commercial worm food (like FRM Cricket and Worm Food).  Important: Feed only as much as the worms will eat in a day.  Clean off any uneaten food before adding more or before turning the bedding.
  • Turn the bedding frequently to keep the bedding loose and fluffy.
  • Maintain a constant temperature of between 60-70 degrees.

Harvesting Your Worm Breeding Boxes

In 21-30 days, dump your boxes out on a smooth table, harvest the mature worms out (there are several harvesting methods which I describe in my Worm Farm Manual).  Put the egg capsules and baby worms back into a new bed with more bedding.  Place the mature worms back into the breeding box with fresh bedding  and begin the whole process again

Keep the new bed of capsules and babies undisturbed except for watering and occasional feeding as needed.  In about 90 days it will be full of maturing earthworms.  When it get crowded, divide it, pull out any mature breeders, or put it into a bigger growing bed.

Follow this worm breeding plan and you'll soon have more worms than you can shake a stick at.

Worm Breeding and Growing

Find many more tips and how-to's on growing earthworms in my Worm Farm Manual.

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