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Posted in Facts about Raising Rabbits | 9 comments

What to do when rabbit poop becomes a problem

When you start raising meat rabbits, you will find yourself with an abundance of meat…and a whole lot of rabbit poop. Healthy rabbits produce two kinds of poop: the medium-sized little balls that most people are familiar with and cecotrophes which are tiny grape-like clusters of poop which rabbits usually re-ingest anally (don’t worry, we’re not going to go into further details about that subject right now). The latter is soft and rather unpleasant to clean up, so it’s more likely to end up in your compost bin with rabbit bedding and fur which will undoubtedly cake into it. But those lovely little firm balls of poop that you see even from wild rabbits are ideal not only for composting, but also to throw directly into your garden at any time of the year.

The firm rabbit pellets are a nitrogen-rich natural fertilizer which will not burn your plants. Rabbit manure also contains a large amount of phosphorus which is important for flower and fruit formation. Studies of rabbit manure find the following mineral levels: 2.3% Potassium, 2.4% Nitrogen, 1.26% Calcium, 1.4% Phosphoric Acid, 0.6% Potash, 0.4% Magnesium and 0.36% Sulfur.

Unfortunately, raising multiple rabbits means more excrement to deal with and some find they have too much on their hands. There is a market for those wanting to sell rabbit droppings (about $5 for a five-gallon bucket) and rabbit manure tea for the garden, but there’s one more thing you can do with it which requires very little work at all: feed it to your earthworms.

Instead of keeping pans for droppings under your rabbit cages which will need to be emptied and cleaned frequently, you can keep earthworm bins directly below cages and hutches with wire bottoms. The feces will drop right through the wire holes and into the waiting worm bins. The worms will then gobble up the feces, reducing odor and fly problems, as well as helping to eliminate disease which spreads when rabbits are hopping around in their own excrement.

The worm compost, which will be even richer than the rabbit manure, can then be thrown on your garden or you can sell the worm compost as dry material or worm tea. Much like rabbit manure, worm compost is extremely mild to plants and will not harm them. In fact, the plants just take the nutrients they need and the rest goes into the dirt.

Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, will require a small amount of extra time and attention from you (feeding the worms, keeping the compost moist, harvesting worms or compost) but it’s a minimal time investment given the rewards. And you will be spending less time scraping rabbit droppings out of trays.

This type of arrangement works best in open well-ventilated rabbitries located in moderate climates. Worm beds need to be kept moist and rabbits prefer low humidity. If you live in a cold climate or your rabbitry is enclosed without good ventilation, you may experience more problems until a proper balance can be achieved. Instead you might also choose to keep the worm bins just outside the rabbitry so rabbit manure can be dumped into the worm bins conveniently and quickly.

So when you find yourself sick of scraping up rabbit poop, remember that there are other great alternatives for getting rid of the manure. And if you end up with way too much worm compost, you can usually get a better profit margin on it versus rabbit manure. Covering the costs of running your rabbitry is always a big plus.

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9 Comments

  1. Great! I was just wondering about what to do with the accumulating piles under my hutches. Thanks!

    About the worms, we have had problems in the past with the worms escaping from the bins, how can we avoid this problem if there are no lids on the bins?

  2. Thanks for dropping in!
    If your worms are escaping, you need to make things more hospitable in the bins. It’s either too moist, not moist enough, they’ve run out of things to eat or they might need more shredded newspaper to balanace things out. If it’s primarily a new batch of worms making a break for it, they could just be having adjustment issues. Try putting a light above the bin (to simulate the sun) and watch your moisture levels.
    Hope this helps & be sure to let me know how things go!

  3. Use manure collecting bins under rabbit cages for earthworm raising. This will be an addedbenefit not only for garden compost but to sell worms to the fisherman for bait.

  4. I have read in places that adding rabbit droppings will raise the temperature in a worm bin, thus burning them out. The ammonia in the urine really does heat up a lot. How have you combated this problem?

  5. You do need to be quite careful about adding urine to worm bins. Usually it is best to have a run off trough so the urine doesn’t go into your bins. Or to rinse the droppings briefly before putting them into the worm bin. Too much urine will definitely kill your worms.

  6. do you sell worms?? know who does?

  7. I don’t currently have any worms for sale, but there are lots of places to get them online. It’s typically quite easy to ship them in the mail — as long as they are not in transit for too many days and are packed with an adequate amount of food. Here’s a site to check out (I’m not affiliated with them):
    http://unclejimswormfarm.com

  8. I have 2 questions.

    1. I have trouble with knats laying eggs and producing big larvis drawn from rabbit manure. The larvis really hurt the worms. I raise european night crawlers. Why?

    2. I have 1,000s of little termites in my worms. Can you help me. They are also in the rabbit manure.

  9. Hi Bob,

    Sounds like what you have a probably fruit flies or fungus gnats — which can have different treatments. One thing you can try is diatomaceous earth. Just spread a very fine layer on the surface of the worm bed and it should get rid of a number of pests. And here’s another good article on the subject http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-bin-creatures/getting-rid-of-fruit-flies-and-fungus-gnats/

    As for the termites, perhaps they are just another type of mite that affects worms? Usually worms can coexist with them but overfeeding, too much soggy/wet food and over-watering are the general problems that lead to the appearance of mites. But if your worms are hiding out in the bottom of the bin or trying to flee, you definitely have more mites than is healthy for the worms. You can try leaving the bins open outside which will usually make the mites leave. Or put some melon slices (flesh side down) into the bin, wait for a little while for the mites to collect on them, and then throw it away, mites and all.

    Is the manure and urine running straight into your bins or are you separating it and dumping only the manure into the worm bins? If you’re combining it all, it could explain the moisture imbalance and the urine is really not good for the worms.

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  1. When Peter Rabbit Comes to Dinner | The L.A.N.D. Line - [...] at this point, you can learn more about rabbit vermiculture through many groovy sites such as Raising Rabbits for …

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