a national information resource for value-added agriculture
Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Worms

By Ray Hansen, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University, hansenr@iastate.edu

Revised July 2015

worms

Introduction

“Earthworm production is an enterprise that could be suitable for many small land owners. An operation with one or two worm beds requires only minimal setup costs, maintenance, and labor. A small enterprise can be handled with family labor. If you live on a farm, you may already have much of the materials required for constructing the worm beds and feeding the worms.” (Pennsylvania State Extension)

Production

According to Pennsylvania State Extension, the primary bait worm grown in the United States is the red earthworm (Lumbricus rebellus), which can tolerate large concentrations of organic matter. Red earthworms will mature in approximately 180 days. They live for about 700 days. Other worm species grown include African night crawler, and the brandling worm. African night crawlers grow best in higher temperatures and will reach marketable size in eight to ten weeks under ideal temperatures. Their cocoons hatch in only 12 days. Brandling worms produce about 900 eggs per worm per year, and can live for four to five years. It is suggested that brandling worms are best suited for vermiculture systems. The worms have a tendency to create an allergic reaction in humans and will omit a bitter odor if handled roughly.

Marketing

Earthworms can be sold in two main markets. These markets include bait for fishing and worms for composting. They are both sizable markets with many opportunities. In the United States hobby fishing is a huge industry with more than 30 million consumers spending in excess of $40 billion each year. Earthworm producers can also find a growing market for composting as more people and business try to be more environmentally sustainable.

Prices

One pound of red earthworms sells for around $30 in a commercial market. Prices in a local market will vary depending on demand.

Financials

Attached is a sample budget for worm production from Pennsylvania State Extension.

Sources

Pennsylvania State Extension

EarthWorms – The Vermicomposting Specialists.


Other Links

 

 

 

 

USDA Rural DevelopmentPartially Funded by USDA Rural Development
...and justice for all.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Many materials can be made available in alternative formats for ADA clients. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964.
 

Iowa State University

The names, words, symbols, and graphics representing Iowa State University are trademarks and copyrights of the university, protected by trademark and copyright laws of the U.S. and other countries.