Poll: Do you think composting with worms is ethical? - Page 2 - VeggieBoards
View Poll Results: Poll: Do You Think Composting With Worms Is Ethical?
Yes 11 78.57%
No 3 21.43%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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#31 Old 05-29-2010, 11:04 PM
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However "nicely" he looks after the worms, they aren't his to sell or trade and they're not yours to purchase.



I paid the shelter $75 to bring home my kitty.

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They're not parts of a machine you can buy to make your life easier or more convenient, they are creatures with their own motivations and lives, however sentient or conscious they may be.



I didn't get them to make my life easier or more convenient. I don't even have any houseplants, let alone a garden. I got them because I was tired of throwing food waste in the dumpster so it could end up in a landfill somewhere, and upon researching my options, this seemed like the most beneficial to the environment. I'll be giving the poo away to a friend who gardens. He gets fertilizer, the worms get food - it's all good.



I really have been mulling this over ever since I got involved in this discussion. I want you guys to know that I am thinking about everything being thrown out there. And while I can understand your logic in the position you take, I just don't see how it's hurting anyone. It certainly isn't any worse than having pets, in my opinion, which people pay for every day to bring into their home. (I'm still talking shelters here, not pet stores)



So I feel ok with having them. I think it's ecologically responsible and I think they're living a pretty swell life.
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#32 Old 05-30-2010, 12:32 AM
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I do not find it ethical at all.



I don't understand how confining another creature for my own means can not be considered exploitation. People seem to bring up bees with honey, or horses with horseback riding and so on and justify it because, "they live such great lives" or "I'm not doing anything wrong to them, in fact I'm 'enriching' their lives" and so on. I find it all justification.



No matter how one tries to justify it, the honest truth is confining a sentient creature for personal ends is exploitation. I believe exploitation is unethical, so confining worms to a box and even if it's a 'pretty good life' by human standards, it's still exploitation.



This is even without discussion of the huge population explosion which happens in these bins and confined areas. Do worms know about the limited food supply (albeit possibly steady food supply) and therefor reduce pregnancies or do they simply breed and therefor at least some if not many worms starve due to not enough food? Or is there enough food to continue to feed the ever growing worm population in the bins? (I doubt the second).

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#33 Old 05-30-2010, 06:39 AM
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This is even without discussion of the huge population explosion which happens in these bins and confined areas. Do worms know about the limited food supply (albeit possibly steady food supply) and therefor reduce pregnancies or do they simply breed and therefor at least some if not many worms starve due to not enough food? Or is there enough food to continue to feed the ever growing worm population in the bins? (I doubt the second).



Breeding worms can lay two or three cocoons per week that will hatch in 21 days, with each cocoon hatching two or three worms that will mature in 60 to 90 days. A worm population eventually stabilizes at levels that can be supported by the food scraps added, and by the availability of room to move and breed.



In my *own* personal experience, there has always been enough food. Like I have mentioned in this thread or the other thread, I check on my worms each night before I go to bed. I always check to make sure there is food in there for them. With two kids eating me out of house and home, this has never been a problem.



With the questions that are being asked by those who don't think it is ethical, I am getting the idea that people don't know much about it. I understand that the argument may be "I don't need to know the details, because keeping them is wrong no matter what the conditions" and that is a completely valid argument. But I also encourage you to learn more about it so that you can understand better why other people don't think it's wrong. It's not like we're just throwing a bunch of worms into a box and telling them "Get to work!"
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#34 Old 05-30-2010, 07:37 AM
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Breeding worms can lay two or three cocoons per week that will hatch in 21 days, with each cocoon hatching two or three worms that will mature in 60 to 90 days. A worm population eventually stabilizes at levels that can be supported by the food scraps added, and by the availability of room to move and breed.



'Eventually stabilizes'? What do you think that means exactly? It's not like they stop breeding. They have no predators, I suspect you don't introduce (intentionally at least) some disease or parasite which kills them. Stating that the 'population eventually stabilizes' seems like it's not exactly clear to you what is going on.



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In my *own* personal experience, there has always been enough food. Like I have mentioned in this thread or the other thread, I check on my worms each night before I go to bed. I always check to make sure there is food in there for them. With two kids eating me out of house and home, this has never been a problem.



Well, the effectively unbounded population growth (the only limiting factor seems to be space and food) is a side discussion. One I was pointing out to indicate that it's not just 'swell' place. Maybe by naive human standards it is, but that doesn't make it reality.



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With the questions that are being asked by those who don't think it is ethical, I am getting the idea that people don't know much about it. I understand that the argument may be "I don't need to know the details, because keeping them is wrong no matter what the conditions" and that is a completely valid argument. But I also encourage you to learn more about it so that you can understand better why other people don't think it's wrong. It's not like we're just throwing a bunch of worms into a box and telling them "Get to work!"



Yes of course, this is also the justification people use to continue exploiting all sorts of sentient creatures. You're just strawmanning people's positions with this comment though.



My questions were more rhetorical than actually required an answer. Since it's pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food. However like I stated, that is just a side discussion about it not exactly being a 'swell place.'

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#35 Old 05-30-2010, 07:58 AM
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If worm populations were that out of control in vermiculture bins, worms would not be going for upwards of 25 dollars a pound! I have to give props to anyone who takes the time and care to grow their family vegetables organically, or help others with their gardening. Environmental ethics are ethics as surely and purely as animal rights ethics, and I see no genuine contradictions between the two. So many of my own decisions are still made to make my life easier and more convenient: for convenience, my vegetables come from the Frozen Food aisle and the Produce section of my supermarket. And for all I know the fresh produce is prolonged with shellac, which exploits critters much worse than being cosseted in a dark moist worm bin buffet.
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#36 Old 05-30-2010, 08:12 AM
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Environmental ethics are ethics as surely and purely as animal rights ethics, and I see no genuine contradictions between the two.

It depends. Animal rights ethics emphasize the moral status of the individual. Environmental ethics sometimes only focus on the totality.

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#37 Old 05-30-2010, 08:14 AM
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'Eventually stabilizes'? What do you think that means exactly? It's not like they stop breeding. They have no predators, I suspect you don't introduce (intentionally at least) some disease or parasite which kills them. Stating that the 'population eventually stabilizes' seems like it's not exactly clear to you what is going on.



What it means is that the more food there is, the more babies the worms will have. If food is scarce, the less babies they have. Their breeding is relative to their environment. I don't know what the "predator" thing means that you mentioned. They don't breed according to predators, they breed according to available resources.



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Yes of course, this is also the justification people use to continue exploiting all sorts of sentient creatures. You're just strawmanning people's positions with this comment though.



I'm not using it as a justification. I'm merely saying that it's disappointing for someone to label something unethical if they don't know much about it. If you have the facts and you still think it's unethical, so be it. But at least arm yourself with something to back up your opinion if you're going to tell people they're being unethical.

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My questions were more rhetorical than actually required an answer. Since it's pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food. However like I stated, that is just a side discussion about it not exactly being a 'swell place.'



Since we're discussing whether worm bins are ethical or not, I just assumed that any questions asked would not be rhetorical and that people might want the information. So I answered the questions. As for it being "pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food".. it's not pretty clear to me, I guess. What exactly do you think happens when worms are confined and given a steady stream of food? Because what I see happening is them eating it. And then pooping it out into fertilizer.
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#38 Old 05-30-2010, 08:35 AM
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It depends. Animal rights ethics emphasize the moral status of the individual. Environmental ethics sometimes only focus on the totality.



We're talking in the context of people who don't eat animal flesh, for whichever reason, being as we're talking about it on the VeggieBoards. It sounds like you're confusing environmental ethics with environmental policy.
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#39 Old 05-30-2010, 09:06 AM
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My wife had a wormery years ago. I was against it from an ethical standpoint but was outvoted. So the worms moved in. But then a funny thing happened:



my attitude towards wormeries changed as a result of the experience. The worms were really more like pets. At the time we had a pet cat and comparing how we treated the cat with the worms is what clinched it for me. We fed the worms, we fed the cat. The worms gave us compost in exchange and the cat gave us affection in exchange. We kept the worms warm and dry during the winter just as we did the cat. The wormery we used had a way of harvesting compost with no worms being killed or harmed. I never saw any dead worms. As explained above, the worms regulate their birthrate via the food they consume: if there's lots to eat they produce babies, if not, then they don't.



While I most likely will never have a wormery again, I have certainly changed my mind about the ethics of wormeries. If you have a dog or cat or any other pet, a wormery is really just a different kind of companion animal.
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#40 Old 05-30-2010, 10:35 AM
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What it means is that the more food there is, the more babies the worms will have. If food is scarce, the less babies they have. Their breeding is relative to their environment. I don't know what the "predator" thing means that you mentioned. They don't breed according to predators, they breed according to available resources.



So you're starving them or keeping food supplies low to keep them from reproducing?



I think this notion of breeding according to available resources is a bit naive and simplistic. "Oh, apparently we've reached the peak population for our bin worms, let's stop breeding!"



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I'm not using it as a justification. I'm merely saying that it's disappointing for someone to label something unethical if they don't know much about it. If you have the facts and you still think it's unethical, so be it. But at least arm yourself with something to back up your opinion if you're going to tell people they're being unethical.



I'm not sure what this means. I can believe killing is unethical without resorting to detailing the manner of each specific possible type of killing. I can think all sorts of things are unethical based on general guidelines (like confining another creature and use for personal reasons). I don't subscribe to the cost-benefit analysis idea, in that certain benefits somehow justify something which is normally unethical. Confining another creature to use for personal reasons is unethical to me. Vermiculture to me is unethical based on that notion.



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Since we're discussing whether worm bins are ethical or not, I just assumed that any questions asked would not be rhetorical and that people might want the information. So I answered the questions. As for it being "pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food".. it's not pretty clear to me, I guess. What exactly do you think happens when worms are confined and given a steady stream of food? Because what I see happening is them eating it. And then pooping it out into fertilizer.



That was in terms of population growth. How exactly do you imagine that worms control their populations? Do they have birth control? Do they sense the finite space, the amount of surrounding worms, the steady input source of food? Perhaps there is some mechanism inside their bodies responding to their waste, food supply, and quantity of other worms (or perhaps they're conscious of this?) thereby regulating their breeding?



----



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I never saw any dead worms. As explained above, the worms regulate their birthrate via the food they consume: if there's lots to eat they produce babies, if not, then they don't.



How long did you have this wormery? You never saw a dead worm that entire time? How long does it take for a worm body to break down in a wormery? What is the typical lifespan of a worm regularly and then what is it in a wormery? What is the birthrate as well as the mortality rate? What do worms die of in a wormery?







-----



Of course, like I stated in my original post in this thread, this is more just challenging the notion of a swell place it must be for the worms. I think humans tend to idealized captivity. I hear it a lot with response to bee keeping, horses, farm animals (those which are then killed and consumed or the ones which are kept for milk or eggs or wool), zoos, etc.



"They just sit around eating as much as they want." I guess with worms the important part to remember too is that they also "poop."



Sure sounds like an idyllic life. I hope someone will put me in a box and give me a steady stream of food so I can just sit around and poop all day.

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#41 Old 05-30-2010, 01:22 PM
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We're talking in the context of people who don't eat animal flesh, for whichever reason, being as we're talking about it on the VeggieBoards. It sounds like you're confusing environmental ethics with environmental policy.

No. On VeggieBoards as in other contexts, environmental arguments will sometimes conflict with the individualistic arguments of AR.

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#42 Old 05-30-2010, 01:32 PM
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I hope someone will put me in a box and give me a steady stream of food so I can just sit around and poop all day.

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#43 Old 05-30-2010, 02:39 PM
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Well, it's not about harm to the worms. It's about allowing them their right to self-determination. We can't be sure whether they know or care that they're in captivity but I would prefer to err on the side of caution and give them the benefit of the doubt.



I don't think anyone has any problem with composting if the worms make their own way into the compost pile; it's when they're captured/bred to be added to humans' compost piles that it becomes an issue.

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#44 Old 05-31-2010, 01:46 AM
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So you're starving them or keeping food supplies low to keep them from reproducing?



I think this notion of breeding according to available resources is a bit naive and simplistic. "Oh, apparently we've reached the peak population for our bin worms, let's stop breeding!"







I'm not sure what this means. I can believe killing is unethical without resorting to detailing the manner of each specific possible type of killing. I can think all sorts of things are unethical based on general guidelines (like confining another creature and use for personal reasons). I don't subscribe to the cost-benefit analysis idea, in that certain benefits somehow justify something which is normally unethical. Confining another creature to use for personal reasons is unethical to me. Vermiculture to me is unethical based on that notion.







That was in terms of population growth. How exactly do you imagine that worms control their populations? Do they have birth control? Do they sense the finite space, the amount of surrounding worms, the steady input source of food? Perhaps there is some mechanism inside their bodies responding to their waste, food supply, and quantity of other worms (or perhaps they're conscious of this?) thereby regulating their breeding?



----







How long did you have this wormery? You never saw a dead worm that entire time? How long does it take for a worm body to break down in a wormery? What is the typical lifespan of a worm regularly and then what is it in a wormery? What is the birthrate as well as the mortality rate? What do worms die of in a wormery?







-----



Of course, like I stated in my original post in this thread, this is more just challenging the notion of a swell place it must be for the worms. I think humans tend to idealized captivity. I hear it a lot with response to bee keeping, horses, farm animals (those which are then killed and consumed or the ones which are kept for milk or eggs or wool), zoos, etc.



"They just sit around eating as much as they want." I guess with worms the important part to remember too is that they also "poop."



Sure sounds like an idyllic life. I hope someone will put me in a box and give me a steady stream of food so I can just sit around and poop all day.



We had the wormery for several years. When I gave it away the worms were still in there munching away and the new owners are now taking care of them. We did not 'manage' the worms breeding we just kept putting the appropriate materials in which they consumed. We'd then harvest the compost at regular intervals after going through the special procedure to separate the worms from the compost to be harvested. I never saw any dead worms, we never had to buy any new worms either.



I will stick to my analogy that having worms is the same as keeping a cat in a house or apartment.
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#45 Old 05-31-2010, 08:04 AM
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I will stick to my analogy that having worms is the same as keeping a cat in a house or apartment.



Big difference between dog and cat companion animals and worms as companion animals, domestication. Worms will do just fine (if not better) on their own, dogs and cats will not....



Also like similar to the point nog. made, "do as to others as you would have them do unto you". Would you want to be kept in a box, be used and managed by another being? Sounds like prison huh?
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#46 Old 05-31-2010, 08:08 AM
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Big difference between dog and cat companion animals and worms as companion animals, domestication. Worms will do just fine (if not better) on their own, dogs and cats will not....



Also like similar to the point nog. made, "do as to others as you would have them do unto you". Would you want to be kept in a box, be used and managed by another being? Sounds like prison huh?



Sounds like you are against someone owning a pet cat that is not allowed out of the house.
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#47 Old 05-31-2010, 08:16 AM
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Sounds like you are against someone owning a pet cat that is not allowed out of the house.



i don't know how you came to that assumption? if the cat cannot defend itself or the outside presents dangers to the animals health staying inside is a better solution.



im against keeping un-altered cats, and not providing them with proper flea control etc.



very much unlike keeping worms in a box inside of a house...
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#48 Old 05-31-2010, 08:34 AM
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i don't know how you came to that assumption? if the cat cannot defend itself or the outside presents dangers to the animals health staying inside is a better solution.



im against keeping un-altered cats, and not providing them with proper flea control etc.



very much unlike keeping worms in a box inside of a house...



Well the wormery we had wasn't secure or locked. It was also kept outside in the garden. It also had a hole in the bottom for drainage so in theory the worms could have escaped if they wanted to. But I guess they preferred the warmth and protection from predators of the wormery and being fed food rather than fending for themselves in the wild. Much like how a housecat lives.
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#49 Old 05-31-2010, 08:38 AM
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If you have a dog or cat or any other pet, a wormery is really just a different kind of companion animal.

https://www.veggieboards.com/boards/s...=1#post2701395

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#50 Old 05-31-2010, 08:41 AM
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I guess its too late to ask a mod to merge these two threads?



To answer your post, I'm talking about cats and dogs and worms, not wild animals. I would think that keeping an elephant in an apartment would be cruel but a cat in that same apartment or some worms in a wormery would be OK.
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#51 Old 05-31-2010, 08:45 AM
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Well the wormery we had wasn't secure or locked. It was also kept outside in the garden. It also had a hole in the bottom for drainage so in theory the worms could have escaped if they wanted to. But I guess they preferred the warmth and protection from predators of the wormery and being fed food rather than fending for themselves in the wild. Much like how a housecat lives.



oh, were your worms the result of centuries of breeding and human intervention?

nice avoidance of the question concerning if you would like to be kept in a box
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#52 Old 05-31-2010, 08:45 AM
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To answer your post, I'm talking about cats and dogs and worms, not wild animals. I would think that keeping an elephant in an apartment would be cruel but a cat in that same apartment or some worms in a wormery would be OK.

But to me, having a (rescued) cat is okay because someone needs to care for the neglected cats waiting at shelters. I do not think the social practice of having companion animals is a good one. This same kind of reasoning cannot be applied to worms, which are like wild animals in this respect.

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#53 Old 05-31-2010, 08:55 AM
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oh, were your worms the result of centuries of breeding and human intervention?

nice avoidance of the question concerning if you would like to be kept in a box



I live in a box. My house is very box shaped, actually. Except for the pointy roof. The worms I had lived in a round wormery that had three separate floors or stages. They probably had more scaled square footage than I do. I honestly don't know anything about the breed of worms housed.
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But to me, having a (rescued) cat is okay because someone needs to care for the neglected cats waiting at shelters. I do not think the social practice of having companion animals is a good one. This same kind of reasoning cannot be applied to worms, which are like wild animals in this respect.



How about this: I have a backyard that is enclosed except for the top. I also have a bird feeder in the backyard. Wild birds come and go and use the bird feeder. When the bird feeder gets low, I add more birdseed. When I had the wormery, we just put one package of worms into the wormery and began feeding them. The worms could have escaped through the drainage pump or smuggled themselves out along with the compost used in the garden but they didn't. They chose to stay. Now lets say I had a parakeet that I let loose into my backyard. And for some reason it decided to not fly away but to remain in my backyard feeding on the bird feeder. Is this exploitation or abuse?
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#55 Old 05-31-2010, 09:01 AM
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Now lets say I had a parakeet that I let loose into my backyard. And for some reason it decided to not fly away but to remain in my backyard feeding on the bird feeder. Is this exploitation or abuse?

If you didn't acquire that parakeet from a shelter or a place of abuse, then I think it's wrong that you "have" the parakeet, as you probably got the animal from a pet shop or the wild or something.

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#56 Old 05-31-2010, 09:16 AM
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If you didn't acquire that parakeet from a shelter or a place of abuse, then I think it's wrong that you "have" the parakeet, as you probably got the animal from a pet shop or the wild or something.



I see what you are saying. The worms were purchased from worm breeding facility. One could compare that to a chicken breeding or other animal breeding facility. But the difference is worms are not killed like chickens are. Nor are they selectively bred like dog and cat breeders to. They also do not require special subsistence (ie animal food) like dogs and cats do. They are grown and live out their full life cycle doing what they do naturally.
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#57 Old 05-31-2010, 09:22 AM
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I live in a box. My house is very box shaped, actually. Except for the pointy roof. The worms I had lived in a round wormery that had three separate floors or stages. They probably had more scaled square footage than I do. I honestly don't know anything about the breed of worms housed.



More avoidance, nice! Is someone using you to eliminate waste and create poop for their own purposes? is your food and resources up to another to provide?



what if someone discovered that vegetarian poop is an excellent source of energy, and people bought, trade and sold vegetarians to keep for their poop, and we were kept in boxes and used to make poop. would u want to live as a vegetarian poop slave?
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#58 Old 05-31-2010, 09:26 AM
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More avoidance, nice! Is someone using you to eliminate waste and create poop for their own purposes? is your food and resources up to another to provide?



what if someone discovered that vegetarian poop is an excellent source of energy, and people bought, trade and sold vegetarians to keep for their poop, and we were kept in boxes and used to make poop. would u want to live as a vegetarian poop slave?

You are avoiding the simple fact that the worms could have left the wormery if they wanted to. They were not slaves. In fact, they had more freedom than a cat living in an apartment.
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#59 Old 05-31-2010, 11:26 AM
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We had the wormery for several years. When I gave it away the worms were still in there munching away and the new owners are now taking care of them. We did not 'manage' the worms breeding we just kept putting the appropriate materials in which they consumed. We'd then harvest the compost at regular intervals after going through the special procedure to separate the worms from the compost to be harvested. I never saw any dead worms, we never had to buy any new worms either.



I've never seen Antartica, nor have I bought a ticket to travel there. Does that mean that it must not exist?



I honestly don't understand why that would be proof of anything, that you never saw a dead worm. What is the water content of a worm? Considering how fast vegetable matter breaks down in wormeries, how fast do you think a gooey mass of a dead worm will break down? I'd think in less than a day it would no longer be recognizable. How many juveniles did you see? Considering that you had one, I assume you read up on the lifespan of worms and could recognize an adult from a juvenile? If you ever saw a juvenile after the initial population stabilization, it would stand to reason that at least some worms have to be dying (else there would be no stabilization). What was the ratio of juvenile to adult worms in your wormery? How about worm cocoons, did you ever see those? What did you do with the worms after you decided you were 'done' with them?



--

So I just want to clarify. This notion of a stabilization that you and lovely_rita have brought up. Further the idea which has been brought up about worm boxes being pretty great places for worms to live.



The notion of population stabilization basically means that the birth rate is about the same as the death rate. There could be a very high birth rate, which would require a correspondingly high death rate, or a very low birth rate, corresponding to a very low death rate.



I am wondering if you and lovely_rita (and other who push this kind of idea) believe that as soon as there is some kind of quantity of worms (based on available resources) then the worms stop breeding so that only as the 'happy' worms die of a ripe old age and a life of vigorous eating and pooping, then they breed only to replace those dead ones. This is some kind of fantasy fairy tale.



Yes, the birth rate does go down as resources are consumed (as does with all life), I submit that it is in fact higher than the fairy tale already mentioned. Of course it's not at the other extreme, where the birth rate is as high as it was initially when the first few worms were placed in your wormery. It's somewhere in between, that in between will depend on how aggressive the worms are (which the red wriggler happens to be), how much their birth rate does fall, etc.



Since it is in fact higher than the fairy tale, this means there is stress and competition among the worms in the wormery. I suspect very few will live to that ripe old worm age, so I suspect that the majority of death will be due to not being able to compete with the younger and more aggressive worms. Basically in your artificial environment of no predators, hopefully no disease, climate controlled (if inside, I realize you did state yours was outside), the primary driving force for population control will be each other and food supply. So in effect you're starving the older and weaker ones. I wouldn't be surprised that the lifespan is much less what it would be in the wild due to the setup of the system.



After all you only need them to reach adulthood (which I believe is less than a year) and breed. From your eyes, considering the bodies break down so fast, you only see strong, vigorous, worms, just the kind that will be surviving at any given time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Well the wormery we had wasn't secure or locked. It was also kept outside in the garden. It also had a hole in the bottom for drainage so in theory the worms could have escaped if they wanted to. But I guess they preferred the warmth and protection from predators of the wormery and being fed food rather than fending for themselves in the wild. Much like how a housecat lives.



Do you concern yourself or consider the introduction of non-native species? This is a by-product of a global vermiculture where people prefer red wrigglers.

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#60 Old 05-31-2010, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

I live in a box. My house is very box shaped, actually. Except for the pointy roof. The worms I had lived in a round wormery that had three separate floors or stages. They probably had more scaled square footage than I do. I honestly don't know anything about the breed of worms housed.



Do your worms have a day job too? Do they go on vacations and trips around the country? Do they drive their little worm cars or just take the worm subway into town when they need new clothes?



This is silly. I don't understand how people relate confining another creature to humans living in a house. I hear and read the same thing about zoos. It sounds like justification or rationalization rather than a conclusion based on actual reasoning.

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