What are ideal conditions?

by Dale Robinson
(Lawton, OK)

I've heard so much about how fast worms mature through different cycles in ideal conditions. I grow Alabama Jumpers. The maturing cocoon is said to be 15 - 30 days under "ideal" conditions. I'm seeing 6-10 days.

I plan to test other types of worms this summer and it will be helpful to be able to compare the results with the norm.

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Feb 16, 2014
Help with Ideal worm conditions
by: Pauly

Hi Dale,

While I do currently sell the Alabama Jumpers. I am not an expert or as experienced as you may be with them.

If you indeed have the Alabama Jumper. For those that don't know, The Jumper belongs to the Endogeic Group. It makes lateral burrows unlike a Nightcrawler or composting worm.

It thrives in soil + decaying matter that is mostly carbon based.

But the Jumper really is no different than any other worm in the fact that its cocoons needs proper temperatures to incubate.

Some worms, like the Indian Blue, can hatch in as little as 13 days.

But someone's "ideal" condition may not be someone else's. The conditions you may be referring to are just a guideline and not standard.

It is possible though to create different scenarios and different outcomes.

Which brings me to this. I would suggest testing different temps/moisture combinations to find out what "ideal" is to you and your cocoons when talking about hatch rate success.

But with all that being said, it sounds like you are doing good and you may want to share with others about your success and process.

Thanks for posting Dale,

Feb 17, 2014
Ideal conditions cont.
by: Anonymous

I just start growing worms just over a year ago so you may have a jump on me on the experience part Pauly. For the most part, I thought I had Europeen night crawlers but it wasn't until last fall when I was selling them as fishing worms that I discovered most of the worms were in fact Alabama Jumpers.

My process employs 8" beds filled with coconut coir and composted cow manure from 4 to 7 inches deep. I also feed them paper and some fruit from the supermarket. I don't like the fruit because it may contain larvea of the fruit flies and I don't want to deal with the flies.

What I do different is flood the beds with water on a regular basis. I know that there are a lot problems with flooding beds in the "standard" worm bins but mine are made to drain pretty fast. I also keep the room dark most of the time. The temperature is between 70°F and 85°F.

Jun 18, 2014
Ideal conditions cont.
by: Dale Robinson

We managed to fill 27 bins by the end of summer. The main problem we are seeing is that the worms tend to overcrowd easily. Which brings me to another question. What causes worms to feel over crouded? We get a lot of long skinny worms but the fat ones for fishing are pretty scarce.

We feed them all that we feel comfortable with and in some cases a little over fed. We do however, keep zones they can go into and feed while the hot zones are doing their thing. We have experimented with watering intervels and that in itself does very little to help the problem. We also change the beding out about every 2 months at which time we remove a big portion of the worms.

Jun 19, 2014
What Are Ideal Conditions for Alabama Jumpers?
by: Pauly

Hey Dale,

I'll briefly touch on a few things and let you decide from there.

The Alabama Jumper, as far as I know, is the only worm that prefers a high diet of almost strictly carbon based materials. This would be dead leaves, grass, well-aged wood chips or shavings, straw, hay, newspaper, cardboard, and well-aged manures etc.

Even though they are somewhat tropical and like any other worm they like their environment to be well ventilated and moist with temps in the ranges like that of the southern climate.

I'm not saying that they can't live up north, I'm just saying that it's their preferred temperature zones.

Alabama Jumpers are lateral burrowers which means that they fall into the endogiec group unlike the Common nightcrawler which builds vertical burrows and the red composting worm which just feeds on the top surface.

Alabamas, since they prefer a high carbon diet, are able to consume mass amounts of decaying matter along with sandy and clay soil too. It's ability to burrow through and feed on clay, sand, and dirt is what makes them so wonderful for living in a garden.

Because they are so lively and energetic when handled is another reason that they prefer wide open spaces. Only recently have people started to try to raise them in bins.

You mentioned that some are thin and spindly. You could have another type of worm or they aren't getting their high carbon diet.

Try feeding them more carbon and less nitrogen substituting manure here and there as well. You can also lightly sprinkle 1 part cornmeal to 1 part ground oatmeal and some ground eggshell powder (for grit) on top or in the bedding.

Be careful not to put too much corn or oats in as it can heat up too much.

With that being said, you can train a worm to do almost anything but there comes a point in time when the production will suffer simple because they are too far out of their environment.

This is really the best advice I can give for now. I'm not there to see your worms or setup but always ask yourself if you are mimicking what nature intending for that particular worm and times it by exponential.

Thanks for writing,

Jul 24, 2014
by: Dale Robinson

I'm guessing I need to start over with testing our system out.

I didn't follow the recommendation that Black Kow manure be used for feeding the worms. Manure is manure right? Not really. Turns out that the cheap manure is the source of the Alabama Jumpers. I was using Hapi-gro from Lowe"s instead. Hapi-gro Manure and compost comes with a lot of cocoons and it would be my guess that the manure (what little there is) has already gone though the gut of worms. The fast rates I was seeing may be from our system reviving the cocoons that were in the Hapi-gro.

I do see a lot of mating going on in the bin so I know they are not all coming from the Hapi-gro. I also don't find many cocoons in the bin so I know something is going on there.

The Alabama Jumpers act like composting worms in our system. That is, they tend to ball up around food. They also eat chick egg layer mash off the top of the bin without any covering. After following the worm growing information we got we are still seeing nothing but small worms(a lot of them). These are not pot worms but we do have some of them too.

Now that we are using Black Kow we will have to recheck the whole process.

Jul 14, 2015
by: Dale Robinson

I tested the bags of manure(Hapigro)to find out if it was contributing to the population of the worms that were already in the bin. They were contributing a few but not in large enough numbers to account for much.

I had started off in the spring with a scant few pounds in three bins. They were so few in numbers that it would take about an hour picking through the most populated bin get a half pound of worms.

By the end of summer, they filled 25 bins that contained 8,000 worms to the pound and about 35 pounds per bin. I left 3 bins for stockpiling the full grown worms.

I know something is happening in the bins that would cause the worms to grow in numbers so quickly. I did test there hatch time to find that it starts at about 15 days. The only other thing that could contribute to the increase in mass but not the size is the number of cocoons laid by the worms. I must be doing something that stimulates them into laying more often than normal.

We know that famin can make them produce more. Then, why not "feast" having the same effect? More experiments to come...

Feb 14, 2016
Update Feb 2016
by: Dale Robinson

Well.. this is a little embarrassing. I misidentified the worms I have as Alabama Jumpers because of the lively jumping they do. Turns out I have the blue worms which also do the jumping thing. I was also looking at how close the ring was to the head which is another identifying feature of the AJ's. Basically the main difference is the AJ's have a white band and get bigger.
I'm guessing that is why I could not get big worms and the doubling time averaged 10 days with a constant 8,000 worms/lb.

Sep 20, 2016
by: AnonymousSherry

I have retired and decided to raise
Alabama jumpers as I live on the lake.
I know nothing about raising worms but do have rare chickens.

Hoping when I need answers to worm questions someone can help me.
Worms are ordered.

Sep 20, 2016
Information About Alabama Jummpers
by: Pauly

Hello Sherry,

Thank you for your input and we will try to answer to the best of our ability and as promptly as we can.


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