How To Set Up A Dog Poo Worm Farm

How To Set Up A Dog Poo Worm Farm

When my greyhound Hans moved into the house (in July 2016), it was important to me that I didn’t suddenly start using heaps of plastic, or begin sending stuff to landfill. There’s bedding, toys and food to consider – and also what to do with dog poo.

If a dog goes to the toilet twice a day, that’s potentially two plastic bags going to landfill every day also – not to mention the contents.

One of the first things I did was set up a dog poo worm farm. I’ve mentioned it before, but it is something that I get asked about often, so I wanted to take some time to explain the specifics.

I promise you, it isn’t hard. There’s actually very little to it!

Dog Poo Worm Farm Basics

Dog poo doesn’t go into the regular worm farm; it needs to go in a separate one. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One, if worms have the choice between dog poo and banana peels and avocado, they are not going to be choosing eating dog poo.

Two, whereas regular worm farm castings (the nutrient-rich compost left by the worms once they process the food) can be used to grow seedlings and added to the veggie patch, worm farm castings stay in the ground.

This is because faeces may contain parasites and bad bacteria, so spreading it over the lettuce seedlings isn’t a good idea from a health perspective.

Of course, it’s possible to position a dog poo worm farm underneath a fruit tree so that the tree gets the benefits of all the nutrients.

I like the dog poo worm farm set-up (as opposed to digging holes in the ground every time there is something to dispose of) because there is one spot where everything goes. It’s contained and easy to manage.

As someone with a small yard, it is the perfect solution for me.

Setting Up A Dog Poo Worm Farm

I’m a fan of the repurposed materials-and-no-cost approach. I’ve used a 20 litre plastic bucket that was donated to me by the bulk food store once the contents had been sold. It has a lid, which is very important.

I cut the bottom out of the bucket, and dug a hole in the garden big enough to bury the bucket so just an inch was exposed above the ground (enough to ensure the lid is secured).

I don’t bury the handle as it might be useful if I need to move the bin later.

Next, the worm farm needs a big old handful of composting worms. (These are different to earthworms in that composting worms are surface feeders.) The main types are Eisenia fetida, Eisenia Andrei and Lumbricus rubellus but what is actually available depends on where you live.

I just grabbed a handful from my regular worm farm. If you don’t have any to start with, check out community gardens, Buy Nothing groups, Gumtree or good garden centres.

The worms aren’t trapped in the worm farm as the bottom is cut out, so they are free to come and go, as are any other critters looking for some lunch.

The other thing that worm farms need is carbon. I add this by picking up dog poo using old toilet paper wrappers (conveniently ready-cut the the exact size I need) or newspaper. If you use some kind of scoop to pick up, just throwing in a few handfuls of leaves, or some paper or cardboard would be fine.

This bucket holds 20 litres, so eventually fills up. I’ve also seen these worm farms made with old flip-lid wheelie bins which are much larger (often it is possible to purchase broken or damaged ones – contact your local council to find out if they offer this service.)

When the bin reaches capacity, cover the top with soil, then pull out the bucket and replace elsewhere.

As the freshest and least composted poo will be at the top, consider setting up a second whilst leaving the first to continue decomposing. It will make for a more pleasant experience when removing and replacing the bucket.

Dog Poo Worm Farm – Do’s and Don’ts

Something really important to remember is that a worm farm contains worms, and worming tablets kill worms. If your dog has taken worming tablets, do not put dog poo in the worm farm for a couple of weeks.

I don’t regularly give my dog worming tablets (on the advice of my vet), and he gets a yearly heartworm injection (rather than tablets) which lasts for 12 months.

Personally, I’d avoid putting dog poo in the worm farm in compostable plastic bags. Even the ones that are certified home compostable take 6 months to compost, and that is in a regular compost bin, not a worm farm.

If you’d still like to give it a try, I’d suggest ripping the bags open before adding them to the worm farm, and be prepared to leave it “brewing” for several months once it is full.

Something else to bear in mind: composting worms will die in freezing temperatures (they are surface dwellers, unlike their cousins the earthworms, who will burrow for warmth). The eggs should survive. If you live in a country where it freezes in winter, bear in mind that your worm farm might need to be seasonal.

Thoughts About Cat Poo Worm Farms

I don’t have a cat, but I have several friends that do, and whom compost their cat litter. The main thing to be aware of is that cat poo commonly carries a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which cause toxoplasmosis in humans.

This means cat faeces needs to be handled even more carefully than dog poo.

Cat litter can be found made of newspaper pellets, wood shavings, which would both work great in a worm farm.

The volumes will be bigger so a 20 litre bucket might fill up fairly fast.

Can I Flush Dog and Cat Poo Down the Loo?

From what I’ve read the consensus seems to be that it is okay to flush dog poo down the toilet, but not cat poo (because of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite). However, the best thing would be to phone your local water treatment facility and ask them whether they are happy for you to do so, or not.

That way, you’ll know for sure – and if not, they should be able to tell you why not.

Whilst I know that dog poo worm farms might not be for everyone, they have been a great success for me. The smell is minimal (as opposed to the bins at dog parks, which reek), I have it placed in a convenient spot, and it is no extra hassle at all – except, perhaps, when it needs moving.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a pet – and what do you do with their waste? Have you set up a pet poo worm farm, are you game to try – or is it definitely a no-go for you?! What have your experiences been? Are there any other ways you try to reduce their waste footprint? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

25 Responses to How To Set Up A Dog Poo Worm Farm

  1. Good article, but should compost worms be put in a bucket without a bottom in it or should it just have holes put in the bottom and sides, because they don’t do well in a garden, what do you think, I don’t have a dog but my son does and I’d like him to use less plastic

    • I’ve been using this system and it works fine, Helen, so I intend to keep doing it this way. I like that plants can find the bottom of the bucket (which of course is bottomless) and take all the nutrients to help them grow. I also wonder with holes whether they’d get blocked. I’m sure that method you suggest would also work well, there’s rarely one way to do anything! The best thing would be to set up both side by side and compare! But that might be taking it a little too far :/

  2. Thanks for sharing this! At the moment we just throw the poo to the back of the garden, occasionally covering it with dirt, and let it break down …. this would be a much neater and cleaner idea. Interesting that your vet doesn’t advise worming tablets – would you mind sharing the why? (I don’t give my dog worming tablets unless she actually needs them – once in 8years thus far. Nor do I give her any toxic flea treatments and have had no problems…)

    • Hi Sharron, yes my thoughts too regarding keeping it all in one spot! My vet doesn’t say never, she just says it is unnecessary to use them routinely. Many people here give them to their dog once a month, I’m not sure that many chemicals is good for them. And my vet said not to, but to keep an eye on symptoms – itchyness, losing weight etc.

      • As a vet nurse I’m gonna give my two cents, most worming tablets can be given every 3 months once your dog/cat is an adult, and if your cat is indoors then you can skip it entirely. Def do it when they’re infants tho, and for a few months if they’re rescues, because their history may be unknown. Because a lot of flea treatments are monthly, I think people can end up worming monthly too. There are definitely problem areas, such as rural locations because more wild/agricultural animals = more fun for parasites. I don’t bother with heartworm because I’ve never seen or heard of it it in my city, and my dog never goes bush. Same for ticks.

        Ooops sorry for the essay. I’m really keen to try this for our doggy poop, even if it’s just for the ones she does at home. I didn’t realise I could use the same worms as regular worm farms tho! I thought they had to be a special kind. I think I’ll have to just start doing it and not tell my boyfriend, cos he’d be super grossed out, even tho I’m the one that would actually do it :P. I read an article on offbeathome years ago where someone in the USA ordered some dung beetles online and let them loose in their yard, and they took care of a lot of the pet poop. That would have been so much fun to watch.

        Thanks for the article! Stoked to find a Perth person doing a blog like this.

        And : yay for greyhounds :) our girl is snoozing next to me now.

        • Hi Janey, thanks for sharing your thoughts :) That advice all sounds sensible! I’m in an urban area, not much bush around and I’m careful to look out for signs of worms fleas etc. I’d rather not overload my little guy with chemicals if he doesn’t need them.

          They have dung beetles in the ground in Margaret River and you are right – it IS fascinating (albeit also a little bit weird) to watch!

  3. Interesting to know – even without the dog. I think, in Germany it actually makes quite sense to flush the dog poo down the toilet since the sludge water treatment plants burn the sludge and win the contained phosphate from the sludge ash for agriculture. Which seems quite sustainable and more safe than using the soil. But it of course depends on your communities/countries practices.

  4. When we take our dog fir a walk we take a trowel and just dig a hole when she does a poo. Is that okay, do you think? Might be hard in a city… and we don’t dig up people’s gardens!

    • Hi Michele, I think that’s fine and actually, if my dog goes on the bit of scrubby land far enough from he path where I walk him then I do that too (the mulch is very thick and the soil is soft enough to get a big old hole going). I guess the thing is, if every single dog owner did that then we’d have a problem! But they don’t, and I utilise mother nature when I can :)

  5. Thanks for the post. We used to have a worm farm set up specifically for dog poo but we are going to give this a go with two set up for a rotational system. We live on acreage so normally throw it down the back like Sharron but I think this will be a better option.

  6. I found this online a few weeks ago: https://www.bokashi.com.au/shop/EnsoPet/EnsoPet+Kit+-+20+discount+for+International+Compost+Awareness+Week.html

    It’s a pet waste composter. I’ve been looking for ideas for my cats because they are one of the top waste producers in my house. I love your idea of using the paper from TP as the courier of the feces – much better than my idea of just using store bought paper bags! I might still have to supplement though. My cats’ boxes require a lot of maintenance.
    Anyways, I would hate to buy a new product when something could be done easily without the product – I’m just not sure if it’s safe to compost cat waste. Also, since I use the litter box with clumping (wheat) litter, do you think it would be ok to compost to urine as well?

    It’s about time I tackle the mess that I’ve been avoiding.

    • Hi Sara, yes I’ve seen these for sale. The green plastic thing could easily be made out of a bucket, the main difference is that they have bokashi bran to use with it (they sell it separately). If smell is an issue or you want it to break down faster then it could be an idea :) I know it designed for cats and dogs so I would say, skip the green thing but get the bran. Then down the track you could decide if the bran was worth it. Let me know how you get on!

  7. Thanks for the idea regarding dog’ s poo decomposting. I am doing the same thing since i have 2 dogs. A have 2 x4 meters area for biodegradable waste. I learned from your methods using plastic pale. My practice is to dig hole for the poo and cover with some leaves and soil. I have seem lots of worms in the area .
    Thanks, regards

  8. That seems like quite an air tight bucket you’re using. Do you keep the lid tightly closed or half closed or just loosely sitting?

  9. BTW I have a greyhound too :) How often do you find the bucket filling up? Have you found alternating between 2 x 20L buckets sufficient for one greyhound?

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