Animal feed resources information system

Earthworm meal

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Earthworm meal, sun dried worm meal, worms

Related feed(s) 

The worms are harvested using several different methods. Organic material (grass, etc.) can be layed on the ground and the worms come out of the ground and lay under the organic material which can then be rotated and the worms can be collected. Soil that are rich in worms can be screened to separate the worms from the soil, if the clay content is not high. After the worms have been collected they can be dried by laying them out in the sun or by using an artificially drying system. The amount of soil contamination will be directly correlated to the meal's ash content. Heating the worms at 120°C for one hour was found to improve growth in rats and reduced bacterial count (Velazquez et al., 1986).

Environmental impact 

The use of earthworms is an ecological acceptable method for breaking down organic materials that have been mixed with soils. Instead of composting these materials worms can be multiplied, grown and harvested and used as a supplemental protein source to feed livestock stock. This is a method of converting organic waste materials into a viable supplemental protein source, while enhancing the soil characteristics.

Certain soil types have been found to support the growth of higher numbers of worms. Worms can also can be used as an effective means of reducing certain types of organic matter, while increasing soil fertility.

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The nutrient quality and available of earthworms was found to be quite high. Therefore most feeding applications has been evaluated with monogastric animals.


Researchers have found mixed results when earthworm meal was fed to poultry. Some experiments found it to be a satisfactory source of protein for growing broilers (Reinecke et al., 1991), while others observed decreased performance when it replaced fish meal (Koh et al., 1984). Earthworm meal was found to be superior to fish meal in applications with broilers (Cariaga, 1983) while others found it to be similar (Das et al., 1990). When it was used to replaced soybean meal and fish meal no differences in was observed in performance in layers (Mekada et al., 1979; Das et al., 1990; Ulep, 1982). The meal was similar to fish meal and casein in young growing chicks (Koh et al., 1984). When fed to quails earthworm meal improved gain and feed conversion when it replaced fish meal in the diet (Silvestre, 1984; Dioson, 1984).


No difference in performance was observed in rabbits when earthworm meal provided 30 % of supplemental CP (Orozco Almanza et al., 1988).

The classical relation between rabbits and earthworms is most generally the production of earthworms + high quality compost with rabbit manure as only substrate or mixed with various plant by-products (Aubert et al., 1987; Schley et al., 1987; Mpoame et al., 1994; Samkol et al., 2008). Earthworms produced with this system, may for example be used as protein source for poultry (Djossa et al., 2014).
Earthworm are effectively rich in proteins (60-65%), well balanced in amino acids and also rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron (Zhenjun et al., 1997) . However, earthworms raised using rabbit manure should never be used to feed rabbits themselves for evident health reasons (risk of recontaminations with pathogen agents).
Because they are a potential source of interesting proteins, earthworms produced with non-rabbit substrate were studied as raw material in rabbit feeding. The incorporation of earthworm meal at 3% in low cost growing rabbit feeds (about 10% of the total dietary proteins) resulted in good economical performance without any health problem (Nieves et al., 2001). In a study conducted in Latin America also, the introduction of earthworm meal in a growing rabbit diet (18% proteins) in order to represent 30% of the total dietary proteins, induced growth performance (growth rate, feed intake, feed conversion ratio) similar to that obtain with the control based on conventional protein sources. In addition, apparent DM digestibility was 5% higher than the control diet (Orozco Almanza et al., 1988). Despite these interesting result some additional experiments on te use of earthworm meal in rabbit feeding would be welcome.


Performance was increased when compared to an equivalent amount of fish in mink diets (Bao, 1983 ?).



Earthworm meal was found to be a satisfactory replace for fish meal and no difference in overall quality of the edible portion was observed in carp (Nandeesha et al., 1988).


When earthworm meal was used to replace fish meal at any level in diets for tilapia the following occurred; decreased feed intake, decreased feed conversion, and decreased growth (Sayed, 1998).

Rainbow trouts

Feed intake and nitrogen utilisation were also decreased in fingerling rainbow trouts fed earthworm meal; an inhibitory effect of some earthworm components on digestive enzyme activity is suspected (Cardenete et al., 1993).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 90.8 1.2 89.0 91.7 4
Crude protein % DM 61.0 7.3 50.9 71.1 7
Crude fibre % DM 3.2 1.4 1.9 5.2 4
Ether extract % DM 8.6 1.6 5.9 10.2 6
Ash % DM 9.4 2.8 5.4 13.1 6
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 21.4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 5.4 3.6 1.8 9.0 3
Phosphorus g/kg DM 10.2 9.4 11.0 2
Potassium g/kg DM 7.2 6.2 8.3 2
Sodium g/kg DM 4.4 4.3 4.5 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.6 1
Manganese mg/kg DM 18 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 198 1
Copper mg/kg DM 29 1
Iron mg/kg DM 357 1
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Alanine % protein 6.0 1
Arginine % protein 4.5 2.8 6.1 2
Aspartic acid % protein 11.6 1
Cystine % protein 1.0 1
Glutamic acid % protein 13.9 1
Glycine % protein 5.9 1
Histidine % protein 2.2 1.5 2.9 2
Isoleucine % protein 3.5 2.0 5.0 2
Leucine % protein 6.3 4.1 8.6 2
Lysine % protein 7.4 6.4 8.5 2
Methionine % protein 4.0 2.7 5.3 2
Phenylalanine % protein 5.1 4.0 6.3 2
Proline % protein 4.5 1
Serine % protein 4.8 1
Threonine % protein 4.3 4.1 4.4 2
Tyrosine % protein 4.0 1
Valine % protein 5.2 4.4 5.9 2
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 85.1 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 18.2 *
MEn growing pig MJ/kg DM 16.7 *
NE growing pig MJ/kg DM 10.7 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Ibanez et al., 1993; Koh et al., 1985; Mekada et al., 1979; Schultz et al., 1977; Sogbesan et al., 2008; Stafford et al., 1984

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:08

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DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/665 Last updated on September 11, 2020, 15:31

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