Worm farming consultancy
We receive many emails and telephone calls on the subject of "starting up in worm farming" most of these calls are from people who have land or buildings they want to utilize be it allotment size or farm sized, farmers, in particular, are very often looking to diversify and have been attracted by the information that is in the farming journals or on the Internet or supplied by banks and business organisations.
Most of the information and advice offered by these banks and business organisations is taken from the sales literature produced by companies who have a vested interest in encouraging you to invest money in their particular scheme, because we are not selling you the worm farming idea, offering to build your worm farm or offer you any sort of buy back scheme, our advice is completely independent and most importantly, unbiased.
We have dealt with many, many individuals who are interested in growing worms but have not been given the correct or factual advice, as a consequence they have invested sometimes large amounts of money only to find it was the wrong decision for whatever reason, having said that, there are cases where the decision was the correct one and have made a business out of worms but more out of luck than judgement.
It is almost impossible to advise on "worm farming" via a 'phone call or an email or two. In the section entitled "The reality" you will find the typical scenario.
You may well be asking why would we be prepared to help more worm growers? are they not going to be competition for us? we don't think so, our core business is in the retail and specialist supply of worms and most growers need to sell their worms in bulk, just like any other grower/wholesaler.
We have been in the worm industry for about 14 years, 5 years was given over to the growing of worms in bulk, prior to that we were a plant nursery for 14 years, interested in the use of natural growing media (that's when we first came across worm cast composts - another story!) prior to the nursery we were involved in the supply and "manufacture" of topsoils and composts in bulk, supplying large landscaping contracts so we have acquired a lot of knowledge on soils, composts and now, worms.
In the beginning.......
As with any business, the number one question is: "is there a market for my product" it is surprisingly common to find a potential grower has not really looked at this question it is all too often assumed that as the sales literature or business advice tells you there is a market, it has to be the case.
Some questions that should be asked:
Who buys worms?
Where are these markets? (physically)
Where or who do they currently buy worms from?
Is the market under or oversupplied?
Assuming there is this big market just waiting to be supplied, next question is:
Where do I grow these worms?
You may well have some outbuildings or maybe some old mushroom sheds even a redundant pig-sty or two they could well serve but how do you adapt them for growing worms? You may have some land, perhaps several acres that could be used for building worm beds, are you going to build the worm beds yourself or buy the "package" and let somebody else build them for you? How may square meters are you going to need?
Okay, we now have our worm beds constructed (presumably in consultation with the Environment Agency?) we now need to fill the beds with a suitable growing media, often it is recommended to look for something easily and cheaply available such as horse or farmyard manure, you may even have it as a waste product on the farm, worms do love these materials (but not if they contain chemicals or wormers!) they are probably the easiest to acquire but ask one question - how are you going to harvest the worms from these materials?
We now have our worm beds filled with the bedding material and need to stock it, the worms to be grown are always Dendrobaena, if it is a package deal, you will be expected to buy "special" breeding worms, these are just adult Dendrobaena and as long as the quality and quantity are right, no different from any other adult Dendrobaena, they cannot be special hybrids or anything of this sort (worms do not cross breed)
The worms are now established in the manure type bedding and feeding is to commence, again the advice would be to use easily available and hopefully cheap waste foodstuffs, could be potato, carrot or paper waste to name a few, it may even be recommended to buy special worm feed (usually expensive) however, little thought seems to be given as to whether these foodstuffs and the quantity they are fed in is the right balance for producing healthy worms, all too often we have growers contact us who are experiencing problems and this is often down to little or no knowledge or adequate advice into what constitutes a good diet
From now on we are expecting to be harvesting our worms, we have been told that x amount of worms will produce x amount of offspring in x time therefore we should be harvesting many many kilo's by now - doesn't happen! worm populations are extremely difficult to predict and will always take much longer than given to believe.
But we have now arrived at the harvesting point, how do we do this? given the bedding materials and the foodstuffs used there is no option but to hand pick, not easy when every worm is doing its best to disappear below the surface away from the light, it is now that most growers realise how much hard work and time is involved in growing and harvesting worms, the original offer per kilo seemed reasonable but now.......
We have yet to clean up the worms, pack them, store them and ship them off to the buyer.
The above is really a rough idea on what is and can be the reality, it is negative and should really raise questions and that is exactly what it should do, worm farming can be a profitable business but the potential grower needs to be advised properly, to enter into it with all the facts and unbiased advice to achieve any success, there will be many growers out there who will relate to the above, if they are lucky, they may well be still in business but working b..... hard!
If you still feel that worm farming is something you want to go further with, we offer a 2 hour consultancy (sorry, you will have to come to us!) during this time we will go into every aspect of worm farming in much greater detail, this also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions, discuss at length and dig much deeper into the subject, at the end, we are confident you will have acquired the right information to make an informed decision. The cost for this two hours is £300, there is no VAT due on this.
Contact Nigel on 01245 380744 for further information.