ECHOcommunity Conversations

Pig Deep Litter-Vermiculture hybrid system

Hello, my name is Annie and I am the current tropical lowlands intern at ECHO Global Farm in Florida. At the farm we are using a deep litter system for the pigs and it is working well. We recently emptied it out after about a year and I noticed that there was still un-decomposed organic matter throughout the compost. I was curious if anyone has tried adding worms to the system to further break down the organic matter?

Some questions I have are:

  • The compost was tested and it has a pH of around 9. Can worms survive in those conditions?
  • Will the pigs just dig up and eat all the worms?
  • Is there a worm species that might be preferable for going deeper within the compost, rather than staying closer to the surface like red wrigglers tend to do?


Annie, Our bedding is 18 years old. The stability of your bed is compromised when you empty the bed. We harvest the manure daily and therefore a small amount of sawdust is added as replacement volume monthly along with biochar. Then the manure (with no more than 10% bedding) is fermented in bins layer by layer with chicken access to clean out any larva. Our EM fermented manure then goes into our worm bins for a top harvest system with African Night Crawlers. A little management daily harvesting the manure is better for us than the time spent gutting the whole bed and starting all over. The deep litter bed is permanently stable when it is maintained. let the microbes do the work and spend your time producing on farm feed for your hogs. Save your worms for vermicast production. ECHO has my new feed book in Chiang Mai. My other book has chapter on Hogs in the Integrated Livestock Fundamentals.

That sounds like an interesting system, Keith.
Annie, another option is to use a “pigerator” system where you layer feed directly into the bedding as you add it. The pigs soon figure out that there’s buried feed in the pack and they do a great job of mixing and aerating the pack, so it composts easily in place.