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Don't Feed These Items To Your Red Wigglers

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Why You Shouldn't Feed Animal Products to Red Wigglers

People engage in vermicomposting for the benefits of worm castings.  But without enough research one might think that their worms are an absolute cure-all for all the waste in their kitchen. This isn’t quite correct, there’s a laundry list of things that you don’t want to include in your worm bin. Foremost among those talked about are animal products like meat and dairy, although there’s rarely an explanation given. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you don’t want to feed this sort of waste into your vermicomposting unit.

The Horrendous, Putrid Smell

Both meat and dairy products release a lot of noxious smells when they’re decaying. Anyone who has left their glass of milk or meat scraps out for too long can attest that the smell is quite unpleasant after a short amount of time.

When you place them in with your worms, you’re putting them into an environment that’s already rich with the bacteria that cause the process we perceive as decay. The temperature will be higher than the ambient temperature as well, the environment is moist. What you’re doing anyways is encouraging the microfauna to rot things since your red wigglers actually primarily eat the bacteria on the material.

What this means for you, is that not only will things rot quickly, they’re likely to rot in a spectacular way as well. Meat will often dry out and harden after the initial degrading process in dry climates, but within your worm bin’s the humidity can take things to a whole new level of disgusting.

This leads to a perfect storm, which will make your vermicomposting unit smell like a corpse stuffed with cheese in no time.

Unwanted Guests, Large and Small

That smell, while unappealing to us, has a tendency to attract pests as well. A lot of us keep our vermicomposting units outside, and pests are already a consideration.

In the early stages of the decay, you can attract some truly troublesome guests though. Animals like raccoon are smart enough to be able to open a loosely closed unit, and after they finish the scraps they’re definitely not above eating your worms as well.

If your bin is open, you open yourself to a whole new can of worms as pretty much any scavenger will be able to easily sniff out and feast. Depending on the fauna in your area, this can range from annoying to dangerous.

You might also have an encounter with one yourself, depending on how your set-up is. Anyone who’s encountered an angry raccoon or opossum knows that it’s not something to be taken lightly. On the off chance you do encounter one, it’s probably best to let it do the damage and back off unless you’re a big fan of rabies shots.

After the initial rotting process, you’ll also have to deal with invasive arthropods which might be less threatening to you, but can make a mess of the entire process. A lot of insects which aren’t surface-feeders like your worms can make short work of their food supply, lay eggs in the interior of your box, and may even be a direct threat to your worms.


As you can see, there’s a lot of risk and disgusting smells involved with feeding animal products to your red wigglers. These problems are pretty much nonexistent, provided that you only feed them vegetable matter, and your worms are sure to live longer, be healthier, and keep producing high quality castings for your home garden. As long as you don’t feed these products, you’re on the right track to a productive, enlightening vermicomposting adventure.


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